Just as soldiers overseas are taken care of during the holidays, so are the ones back at home. YNN's Elizabeth Jeneault says hundred of soldiers donated toys to Fort Drum families Wednesday to show that type of support.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "It was about three and a half miles, 45 minutes," said Captain Anthony Armelino, 7th EN BC HHC Commanding Officer.
A march that was unlike other days, as soldiers dressed in santa hats and wore rucksacks filled with items to be donated to the Mountain of Toys program.
"It was a tradition. They did it last year. They donated over 200 toys and we decided to pitch it to everybody and we had four companies join us so we figured it was a great idea," said Armelino.
That means nearly 400 soldiers participated in Wednesday's event, with all of them donating a toy. That made the Christmas tree pile in USO's Office quite large.
The toys will eventually be distributed to less fortunate Fort Drum families who request the gifts.
"This year right now we have about 700 requests for toys so we think that this is going to put us over this amount and usually it's about five or 600, 700 soldiers who ask for toys to help out in their families this time of year," said Joseph Mclaughlin, a Seargeant's Major Association Board Member.
The batallion believes it doubled its number of donated gifts this year from last.
Something the soldiers can be proud of, especially because it will help out their peers.
"They say that the strength of our soldiers is in our families. So it's the best way to take care of them during the holidays," said Armelino.
Support that comes in the form of a group effort.
"To see that this unit pulls all their soldiers together, have them bring a toy in, do a road march, bring them up here to USO, it's kind of like all different organizations, USO, the Sergeant's Major Association, the 7th Engineer Batallion all coming together to help needy soldiers during the holiday season," said Mclaughlin.
"At the USO, we like to lift the spirits of troops and their families and the 7th Engineers are definitely doing that today," said Karen Clark, Fort Drum USO Director.
The groups say anything is worth making Fort Drum families' Christmas's a little brighter.
Soldiers and civilians on Fort Drum can still donate gifts to Mountain for Toys at various drop-off locations on Post.