Toy Industry Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Brighten Holidays for Military Families at Guantanamo Bay
The Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Military Services hosted an unprecedented holiday toy distribution for the children of military families at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba on Saturday, December 4. The event, the highlight of the annual Holiday Parade gathering, was the largest of its kind on base as more than 500 family members came together in celebration; every branch of the military was represented and each child, from toddler to teen, was able to take a home a toy of their choice.
“We are grateful to the Toy Industry Foundation and the BGCA for supporting our military and civilian families,” said Karen Simon, GTMO Child and Youth Programs Administrator. “It can be especially difficult to be separated from extended family and friends during the holidays so support like this helps maintain morale.”
Holiday cheers erupted from kids of all ages when TIF Executive Director Jean Butler presented Base Commanding Officer Captain Kirk Hibbert and members of the base community with hundreds of toys, games and plush products that had been donated to the TIF’s Toy Bank by toy companies such as Cloud B, Daydream Toys, Hasbro, Little Kids, Inc., MindWare and exhibitors at the Toy Industry Association’s Fall Toy Preview.
“This was an extraordinary opportunity for the toy industry to bring comfort to children of military families stationed at Guantanamo Bay. These families are far from the comforts of home and we were thrilled to provide a bit of extra support and joy during the holiday season,” said Butler.
The toy distribution at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base wraps up the first year of a new TIF-BGCA Play Comforts partnership to provide toys to members of Boys & Girls Clubs located on U.S. military bases. The initiative includes grant funding from the Foundation and is the first-ever national toy distribution program to canvas every branch of the military. More than 25,000 children have been served since Play Comforts was launched during the 2009 holiday season with a toy distribution event at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; GTMO was the first international event under the partnership.
“We appreciate the Toy Industry Foundation’s contributions and commitment to our military families,” stated Terrill D. Wicks, BGCA’s Vice President of Military Services and International Projects. “During this holiday season, it was especially rewarding to provide this token of our appreciation for our military families deployed to GTMO.”