For children, the holiday season is a magical time where wishes can come true and possibilities are endless.
Thanks to the employees of BAE Systems, in conjunction with the Marine Corps Reserve’s annual Toys for Tots drive, many less-fortunate Hawaii children’s wishes of receiving a shiny, new set of wheels will come true.
More than 65 family members, friends and employees of BAE Systems donated their time to assemble more than 100 bicycles in less than two hours as part of the company’s “Bikes for Tykes” drive Nov. 1.
BAE Systems employees purchased the bikes which were collected by the Marines for distribution to needy children in Hawaii.
Marines from Kaneohe-based 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, a reserve unit, and active-duty Marines from U.S. Pacific Command were on hand to assist with the assembly and to load the finished bikes into rental trucks.
“(“Bikes for Tykes”) is a great opportunity for us as a company to get together and give back to the community,” said Mark Kavalawski, a BAE Systems employee.
Kavalawski has participated in “Bikes for Tykes” since its inception in 2006.
This is the third year BAE Systems, a defense contractor, has conducted their “Bikes for Tykes” drive, and it continues to grow each year, said Alan Hayashi, BAE Systems government relations manager.
“Last year we purchased 100 bicycles and surpassed that number this year,” said Hayashi.
There was also a larger number of people who gave up their Saturday to assemble the bikes than in the years before, Hayashi said.
“It is a blessing for me to give a little of my time to bring a smile to a child’s face,” said Armie White, a BAE Systems employee. “It is an indescribable feeling to know I made a difference.”
The bicycles were taken to a warehouse, donated by Castle and Cooke, in which all toy donations during the 2008 Toys for Tots season will be consolidated, said Gunnery Sgt. Chris Whitley, Toys for Tots coordinator.
The toys are then turned over to the Salvation Army, which handles requests from local charities and distributes the toys based on individual needs, Whitley said.
“Hopefully the increasing success of the drive inspires more people to participate,” said Kavalawski. “Maybe we can collect 200 bikes next year.”
“I think this is the perfect start to the Toys for Tots drive,” said Whitley. “It really sets the tone for the rest of the campaign, seeing such a large turnout.”
This year the Hawaii Toys for Tots campaign hopes to collect more than 40,000 toys, said Whitley.
Marines will be accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 6 and 7 at the Pearl Ridge Toys “R” Us store.
Additional toy drop-off locations will be announced soon.
Anyone interested in donating toys or their time can contact Whitley at (808)257-1033 or visit the Toys for Tots Web site at www.toysfortots.org.