Toys for Tots Trot

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The 7th Annual Toys for Tots fun run was Saturday morning at Parkersburg City Park.

Seventy people showed up to walk or run the mile long course.
Event organizers say this is designed for families to do something together and support a good cause during the holiday season.

"I think it just makes everybody feel really good about themselves," says race director Louann Lynn. "It's a nice thing for people to do for the community."

In order to participate each person either donated $10 or a present.

Toys for Tots coordinator Cliff Hecker passed out awards to the top three finishing men and women walkers and runners.

Hecker was stationed in Afghanistan last year during Christmas and missed the toy drive. He says seeing those conditions truly made him appreciate the community here.

"The people that I saw last year makes us so grateful for what we have," says Staff Sergeant Hecker. "Even though we have underprivileged children here we can thank ourselves as a country just for supporting the way we do."

He's been on the giving end of the Toys for Tots program for 15 years, but its been a part of his life since he was five. Hecker can remember receiving gifts from the Marines as a child.

He says at that time he didn't understand what was happening, but grew to learn the meaning of the program. The benefits for him have been two-fold.

"Just that benefit of knowing that somebody made a difference in my life, that's what I think myself and all the volunteers that help. Just so we know somebodys out there to help and there is hope," says Hecker. "And if we don't take care of our children who will?"

He is living proof that when a community and program care about the happiness and future of their children it can shape their lives into something that was, perhaps, thought to be unimaginable.

"As a parent, an adult period, it's our job to instruct our children and teach them," says Hecker. "If we teach them somebody is willing. If you take the time the help somebody out, they'll remember that the rest of their life."

The legacy of this program reaches beyond those toys that brighten smiles on Christmas morning

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