The Saipan Young Professionals is taking up the Toys For Tots program of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to spread hope and goodwill to less fortunate children in the CNMI.
Marine Corps Activity Guam public affairs officer Maj. Timothy Patrick shared how SYP showed initiative to extend the program in the CNMI.
“A month ago we ran across the Saipan Young Professionals in Guam, and we struck up a conversation. They came back here and asked us if we will be able to support their Toys for Tots initiative on the island,” he said.
“So we went to headquarters and asked if we can open up a new Toys for Tots program in the CNMI. Opening a program outside the mainland has never been done before. This is the first time in 70 years,” he added.
According to Patrick, they received enthusiastic support from headquarters and immediately gave them everything they needed to get started.
The program aims to collect new, unwrapped toys in October, November, and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community.
“Saipan Young Professionals is the one leading it. We plan to work closely together. This is their program and we are here to support in any way they need,” said Patrick.
“Saipan Chamber of Commerce executive director Jill Arenovski was able to show us just how healthy a giving community Saipan is. Around Christmas, you have tons of organizations that we are able to help and we thought how can we support that,” he added.
Creating awareness about the program is currently underway.
“We have to get the word out and SYP is on top of that because they have done many projects in the past and promotion and creating awareness is their forte. The program relies heavily on media and social media to create more awareness,” Patrick said.
“With collections, what we typically do is take a box and either we work with business owners or Parks and Recreation, anywhere that there is potential for public venue, and we put the boxes there. We drop off the box and once it is filled we empty it,” he added.
SYP is in charge of the most important role in the program—identifying where the toys will go.
According to Patrick, the primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver a new toy at Christmas to less fortunate children to send a message of hope.
“For some communities that we have been to, especially after natural disasters, things are tough and potable water, medicine, and food are really the things that you need.”
“We think of a young child as the future. A toy represents hope. It might not represent hope to someone who gets everything but for a child that is less fortunate or maybe missed out on Christmas, we find that toys in the right situation with the right child translate to hope,” he added.
SYP is a committee of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce.