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Each year, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program works to brighten the lives of less fortunate children throughout the United States with its annual toy drive. From October to December, the organization works with local communities to accept donations of new toys to be distributed at Christmas time. Their mission is simple: to deliver a message of hope to one of the nation’s most valuable resources—its children. This week, we spoke with Staff Sergeant Brett Wagner, a coordinator from King George County, VA,  who shared some information about the organization and one particularly special instance of how Toys for Tots was able to touch a family in need.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)    

A: The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?  

A: I was very touched when we were able to support a family that just lost their house due to a fire two days before Christmas, but there are a few stories that are similar that happen almost every year.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?  

A: Getting toys early in the campaign season.  A lot of people tend to wait until closer to Christmas to begin their shopping, but we need to get the toys to the families as soon as we can.

Q: How can people get involved this holiday season?  

A: There are many ways to support the program.  Volunteering in the warehouse and donations are the primary things that come to mind.

This year, Community Bank of the Chesapeake proudly supported Toys for Tots programs throughout the communities we serve through our annual Toy Drive. Thanks to the generous donations of customers and employees, we were able to donate over 270 new toys… just in time for Christmas!


The holiday season is in the air in Charles County as several historic and contemporary sites come together once again to form the 2014 Holiday Trail! Working behind the scenes to coordinate the effort is Kate Zabriskie, who came up with the idea in 2012 as a creative way to promote tourism in Charles County. Her vision was quickly embraced by local organizations and has been gaining popularity ever since. As part of this week’s Friday Focus, Kate spoke with us about the trail and provided details about how and when to go this year.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, etc.).

A: The Charles County Holiday Trail is composed of historic and cultural sites in Charles County. The purpose of the trail is to share these landmarks with locals and visitors alike.

The participating landmarks include:

We are also excited to welcome several new sites to the trail this year, including:

Q: What has been your favorite "moment" (example of how your organization helped)?

A: The Historical Society of Charles County has stepped in as the umbrella organization for the event.  The County’s tourism office has also gotten behind the effort and sponsored the brochure design and printing.  It is exciting to see a little idea quickly grow into something that can be sustained for years to come.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: The biggest challenge is getting the word out.  People from the County will tell you they haven't been to some of these sites in years—or ever, for that matter.  For those new the County, many don't even know these places exist.

Q: How can people really help?

A: The public is invited to visit the sites the weekend of December 5-7. They can also visit our Facebook page, where they can connect with us via social media. 

Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?

A: Realize that nothing is below you.  At some point, you will probably end up cleaning dirty bathrooms before an event.  On that same note, however, there will usually be more to do than you can ever get done.  Choose what you will work on wisely.  Always be in recruit mode and never forget to say thank you!

Want to experience the Holiday Trail for yourself? Here’s what you need to know:  

The trail begins on Friday, December 5 with the Kris Kringle Christmas Market at the Charles County Fair. Admission is $1 or one nonperishable food item. All admission will go to the Southern Maryland Food Bank. Modelled after the markets in Germany, visitors can expect plenty of food, lights, greens, art, music, shopping and a living nativity.


For many of us, the holidays are a time of plenty as our tables are filled with festive dishes, cookies and other treats.  But it’s important to remember that there are people in our community who are not as fortunate. Leading the charge against hunger in the Tri-County area is Brenda DiCarlo, Director of the Southern Maryland Food Bank. We caught up with Brenda for this week’s Friday Focus, where she shared her organization’s story.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: The Southern Maryland Food Bank has been serving the Tri-County area of Southern Maryland for 30 years and has been easing the pain of hunger since we began in 1983.  We provide supportive services and bulk food to nearly 40 pantries, group homes, soup kitchens and shelters in our area.  These sites rely on us for 50 to 100 percent of their weekly food supply, so that they can provide food to those experiencing food insecurity in their communities.  We also provide SNACK Sak bags to children in five St. Mary County Public Schools who are living in crisis situations.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: Our favorite bittersweet moment was recently when we distributed over 1 million pounds of food to the community during our 30th fiscal year.  It was a milestone for such a small program, however, knowing that there was that much need in our community enlightened us as to how much more we still need to do to ease the pain of hunger.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Our challenges are many. We are in constant need of food donations, financial donations to purchase food with or expand our services and staffing.

Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?

A: Always remember that we ourselves could easily be in the same situation as those we serve, so be kind and non-judgmental to those requesting services.

Q: How can people get involved this holiday season?

A: Food drives are a great way to get involved and to support those in need. You can also contact us or any pantry that may need extra help during the busy season of giving and receiving.