The atmosphere was festive at Dr. Gene Beverlin’s house in Belén, where a group of veteran marines were busily wrapping Lego sets, Barbie dolls, and model race cars. Spouses and friends joined in the effort, cutting paper and setting out hors d’oeuvres, and it wasn’t quite noon before the Imperial bottles were deployed.
“My house was the most centrally located,” said Dr. Beverlin with a smile. At 87 years, he is allegedly the oldest member of the Marine Corps of Costa Rica.
This month’s initiative is called “Juguetes Para Niños,” the Spanish equivalent of Toys for Tots. Often mistaken as a generic term, Toys for Tots was founded by the United States Marine Corps in 1947 and has distributed millions of donated toys to low-income households. Taking their cue from their U.S. predecessors, the 50 members of the Costa Rican chapter have started their first-ever Toys for Tots drive, and they seem happy with the outcome: They have already donated about 150 toys to the Seeds of Love creative enrichment program, and they planned to donate two batches of 50 toys to Central Valley neighborhoods and to a church in Jacó. (For more information or to support their campaign, visit the Marine Corps League Costa Rica Facebook page.)
“People don’t know about what we’re doing,” said Bill Enell, commandant of the Marine Corps. “So this first year we tried to get the word out and let people know what’s going on. Hopefully next year we’ll have more toys and it will be more of a banner year.”
The Tico Times caught up with Enell and his fellow veterans last Wednesday morning for their wrap session.
Read previous “Giving Back” stories here.
“Giving Back” is an occasional series that seeks to draw attention to the work of nonprofits, community organizations and other donation-based initiatives around the country. Nominations for the series can be sent to us at [email protected].