On Thursday morning, 25 pallets of toys arrived at the Alaska Airlines cargo center. That amounts to around 4,000 toys, according to Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Luis Gonzalez, Alaska coordinator for the Toys for Tots program.
"Up here in Alaska it's a little different," said Gonzalez. "In some of the smaller communities, a toy brings so much joy to the little kids."
"To actually see their faces when they get it," he said, "it brings hope. And that's what the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program does. It brings hope to little kids in Alaska."
The Marines have spent a month and a half collecting donated toys, which will soon be on an Alaska Airlines jet, heading to hub communities like Bethel and Kotzebue. Once there, the toys will be transferred to snowmachines and taken to smaller communities.
"It brings joy to my heart," said Alaska Airlines pilot Tom Sharkey, "knowing that a child will have a toy and experience a little bit of the magic of Christmas."
Sharkey will fly one of the jets carrying toys destined for some of Alaska's rural communities.
The shipment of 25 pallets would normally cost around $11,000, according to Alaska Airlines community relations coordinator Caitlin Goettler. "We waive the charges so that Alaska Toys for Tots can focus on reaching as many children as possible," she said.