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story.lead_photo.caption Toys for Tots boxes sit in storage at the Marine Corps Reserve Center.

TEXARKANA, Texas — It's October, and local Marine Corps reserves are already turning their attention to the Christmas season and their rive is Toys for Tots drive.

The drive is an annual tradition where the local battalion — Marine Corps Reserve Combat Logistics Battalion 453 — joins with other partners to provide Christmas toys to needy children in the community.

Sgt. Dawson Detombe, who hails from Mobile, Alabama, is heading up the effort.

"We are getting a head start on providing a better Christmas for area kids in need," he said earlier this week.

As the holiday season approaches, Marines in Texarkana will be visiting community organizations, looking to raise awareness of the season and tradition, encouraging the community to participate and contribute.

"We serve around 400 to 500 children in the area through Toys for Tots," Detombe said. "We want to exceed that this year. The COVID crisis has added a difficulty factor to the mission this year. So far, we have had lots of people sign up, but not as much support yet as we usually have this time of year."

While Toys For Tots is a big program, it is the battalion's main mission.

"We provide transportation support for Maine operations wherever they are," Detombe said. "We've had Marines deployed from this unit to all theaters of operations. Various elements have been sent out at various times, depending on mission and need."

Toys for Tots provides a different set of challenges, particularly since most of Marines attached to this unit are part-time.

"But they are more than ready, and love taking on this mission," Detombe said. "Right now, we are getting set to put out donation boxes around the community. We will need help with getting them out, then eventually collecting them, then distribution of the toys."

This year's distribution will take place around mid-December, Detombe said.

(For those wanting to participate or need more information, go online to texarkana-tx.toysfortots.org or call 903-490-2735, or 571-361-2631.)

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