Hundreds of local families left FedExField Dec. 17 with smiles on their faces and presents in their hands after attending the Washington Commanders' Toy Giveaway presented by United Airlines.
"It was so great to see the kids' eyes light up when they were coming down the line looking at the toys, and they found the one that they wanted," said Toys for Tots volunteer Terry Clancey.
Hosted by the Washington Commanders Charitable Foundation, the event was unique from other Washington toy giveaways because it brought together partners from across many sectors to level up the scale of the initiative and support so many more families this holiday season.
As a first-time presenting sponsor of Washington's Toy Giveaway, United Airlines, which has a hub in the DMV area, was passionate about dedicating resources to an event focused on giving back to a community that means a lot to them.
"At United, 'Good Leads the Way' in real ways," said Henry Bird, United's managing director of airport operations at Dulles International Airport. "We are proud to walk the walk and live our values in the work we do, which is why United was not only honored to be the main sponsor of this year's Toy Giveaway but also was thrilled to volunteer with the Washington Commanders to distribute thousands of donated toys to communities across the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area."
Volunteers from United stood side-by-side with those from the Commanders' neighbors down the street at the Prince George's County Police Department. The PGPD, whose main offices are just blocks from FedExField, has long been committed to stepping up for the local community during the holidays by providing toys as well as meals and clothing to PG County residents. At the Toy Giveaway, PGPD members enjoyed an added, special chance to connect and show love to those who they protect and serve.
"While at the Toy Giveaway, Chief Aziz was hugged by several mothers whose families were impacted by violence. Meeting these brave mothers will have a lasting impact on the Chief and our agency," said Brian Fischer, the PGPD's Media Relations Division Manager. "The PGPD is grateful for this partnership with the Commanders, and we all look forward to joining together again in service to the community in the new year."
Meanwhile, Toys for Tots volunteers, many of whom were marines, were struck by the engagement and personalization of Saturday's festivities in Legends Plaza.
"The staff was great, the alumni, the DC Divas. Just all the interaction that everyone had with all the participants," said Mike Stuckey, Deputy VP of Operations for Toys for Tots. "The invited families got a chance to select the toy, which a lot of places don't let you do."
In addition to selecting a toy, giveaway attendees were able to take photos with Santa Smoot, interact with uniformed Marines and Command Force members, hang out with Commanders team dog Mando, get autographs with alumni and more.
The first 500 kids to come through Legends Plaza were gifted with Washington Legend Ken Harvey's children book "Come Find Me," which he was there in-person to sign. Other memorable moments were delivered by Commanders' Co-CEO and Co-Owner Tanya Snyder, who surprised three kids with X-Box Series S consoles and three kids with Nintendo Switches.
The 2022 Toy Giveaway showed how impact can be amplified when more come together. Because of the way a diverse set of Santa's helpers assembled, numerous local families have had their holiday seasons made merrier and brighter.