They respond to man-made or natural disasters and this holiday season, the Texas State Guard is here for children who could use some cheer.
Several guardsmen dropped off more than 3,000 toys at St. David’s Children’s Hospital in Austin Friday. The hospital cares for children 17 and under.
“This has been a labor of love,” Sgt. First Class John Gately said. “Our mission is not only to give toys to kids at the hospital, but also leave a year’s worth of toys behind so every child that comes into the hospital gets a toy.”
The “Young Heroes of the Guard” Christmas Toy Drive started in November 2009 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The mission is to collect and hand out new toys to pediatric patients at children’s hospitals across Texas.
Gately said a memory from more than 40 years ago sticks with him when organizing the toy drive.
“When I was six years old, I broke my leg,” he said. “I was in a hospital for several days with that and my dad actually bought me a teddy bear at Walmart.”
Fifteen-year-old Chaznique Winston was one of the kids who received a toy. Winston was in the emergency room getting care for a bad cough that caused her to struggle with breathing.
“I feel like I’m going to be OK pretty soon,” Winston said after she received a teddy bear, Monopoly game and wireless headphones.
Anyone interested in helping the Texas State Guard with gifts or donations can learn more about the program through the toy drive’s website.