The deep, rolling thunder echoed across the tarmac at Hangar 101 here, but instead of causing those gathered to run for cover, it brought them out in droves. This thunder came not from an approaching storm, but rather from the exhaust systems of more than 500 approaching classic and custom cars.
More than 30 car clubs from around the island came together in the bright Hawaiian sunshine Saturday, Nov. 28, some driving restored classics, others driving hot rods right out of “American Graffiti” and yet others driving customized late model and exotic cars. The one thing they all had in common was their purpose: to bring donations of new, unwrapped toys to support the Marine Corps’ 2009 Toys for Tots collection effort.
This marks the 35th year the Oahu Car Clubs have gathered for their annual cruise, but this year’s event included something very new. In previous years, car club members would drive from their rally point to the base, drop off toy donations and leave. This year, in order to say thank you for their support, Marine Corps Base Hawaii agreed to host a “drive and shine” car show at the end of the cruise, complete with refreshment vendors and entertainment.
Captain Luke Gaffney, the officer in charge of the Toys for Tots Hawaii effort, said the turnout for the car cruise and show demonstrates the close relationship between the Marines and the Hawaii community.
“We’re extremely happy to see this much community support for an event with the Marine Corps’ name on it which at the same time provides support back to that community through Toys for Tots,” he said.
Master Sgt. Scott Crockett, the 2009 Toys for Tots Hawaii coordinator, had a lot of help with this year’s car cruise.
“It’s great to see Marines coming out from different units to volunteer their time for the community,” he said, adding, “The support from the community has been great. People are always glad to see us because they know that we are helping out, and reaching out to less fortunate children to assure that they have a good Christmas.”
Entertainment for the more than 1,000 people who turned out for the event was provided by the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band and local kids band “Logix Sold Separately,” whose members all range from 10 to 16 years in age. These talented musicians, all cousins, were excited about the opportunity to help out the Toys for Tots cause.
“Before the event we were nervous, during it we were excited and afterwards we were totally relaxed,” said 16-year-old Shayna Directo, guitarist. “We really loved playing for a good cause with the Marines.”
Ariana York, 10-year-old keyboard player and singer, echoed cousin Shayna’s sentiment. “We felt very honored to play for such an important event, and the stage made us feel like a really cool band!” she added.
This was also the largest cruise the clubs had ever put on, and it netted more than 1,000 toys, all of which will go to make the holiday season brighter for children of Hawaii who might otherwise not know the joy of opening a gift on Christmas morning.
“This is my first year, so I wasn't sure what to expect,” said Crockett. “You hear stories from the previous year(s), but until you actually see the amount of cars, and the number of people pouring in to donate, it is hard to envision.”
“Events like this one are essential to our efforts,” said Gaffney. “The community’s involvement is the only way our annual Toys for Tots effort can be a success.”
For information on where you can drop off a donation of a new, unwrapped toy, visit toysfortots.org.