December 15, 2008
Story & Photos by Chip Childress


Troops come to the Aid of Tots!

On Thursday, December 12th, members of the Midwest Garrison donated their time to help the Champaign County Toys for Tots drive. We arrived around noon to get suited up. Ed was already there getting into his Tusken gear. Ryan, Tom and I were able to use a conference room to dress. Once again a room with a large table is perfect to suit up in. 

Caesar Perez, the coordinator for Champaign Toys for Tots, is a Star Wars fan and was really, really happy that we were there. He took many pictures with us and he may even join the Legion one day. He's already got the enthusiasm for it. Events are so much better when there's a person like this involved. 

We headed outside where they were collecting toys. I handed a toy, red lightsaber to Caesar for a donation as we got to the main table. They had set up next to the street and had blocked off a lane where people could drive up. People didn't even have to get out of their cars to donate. The helpers, the Marines or even us, were taking toys from cars and loading them into donation boxes. There was a woman that stopped by just because she saw us and she donated cash. Many people got pictures with us after donating. 

A camera operator and reporter from WCIA came up to me and asked me a few questions in costume. It was very quick, but it went well. It was about 35 degrees, but Caesar had set up a large tent with heaters inside. Tom and Ryan were the coldest so the tent was good for them. After a couple of hours, we went back into WCIA for a break. When we came back out we found out that a family had stopped by a couple of times looking for us. The woman and her two kids showed up just then and we took pictures with her son and then with her and her daughter. It turned out that she is the wife of a co-worker from where I work. A friend of hers told her about us being there and her son was not leaving until he met us. 

It was getting close to 5:00 and the news people were getting ready for their broadcast. Almost the entire half hour was about Toys for Tots. They interviewed people who were donating and they talked about how the economy is affecting donations. Caesar came up to me and said that the weather girl Kalee wanted me for a quick segment. He told me that she would ask me something about how the weather compared with "our galaxy" and that I needed to come up with a response. I got in place and when Kalee asked the question, I said "It's like invading the rebel base on Hoth". Even though they did a sound check on my speaker, my words didn't come out very clear on the video. Also, I was asked to do a live interview with Jennifer from WCIA. I was a little nervous about doing a live interview, but it went pretty well. After this long in the Legion, I can talk about it pretty good. It was only about three or four questions and it was over before I knew it. Hopefully, I can get a copy of the video and post it for everyone. Caesar sent me an email and they received 1700 toys yesterday and $563.00 in cash. This event went very well and we'll be doing it again next year.

To see the photo gallery containing 5 photos click here.