A Different Kind of Mission ... Operation Santa Claus
CIA Director Mike Hayden marked the Agency’s seventh year of partnership with the Marine Corps ‘Toys for Tots’ program on December 18 by formally presenting 48 large boxes of donated toys and six bicycles for distribution to disadvantaged children. According to Staff Sergeant Rodrigo Guzman, one of the Marines in charge of organizing the toy distribution, the Agency’s donation constitutes the largest single contribution to the local ‘Toys for Tots’ program.
The ‘Toys for Tots’ program was established by the Marine Corps 60 years ago with the goal of delivering “through a shiny new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.”
The CIA began its toy collection program, Operation Santa Claus, in 1968. In 2000, it began collaborating with the ‘Toys for Tots’ Foundation. Since 2000, the Agency’s contribution has grown from 40 boxes of new, unwrapped toys, to a whopping 48 boxes. The Agency is the only local ‘Toys for Tots’ contributor that fills two 26-foot long cargo trucks with donated goods.
While presenting the toys to the Marine representatives, Director Hayden said, “People often ask me what kinds of people work at the CIA. I tell them, ‘your friends and neighbors.’ There is no better indication of that than what your friends and neighbors have done here in terms of collecting these 48 boxes of toys.” Director Hayden then presented a stuffed toy bear donated by the CIA’s Employee Activity Association and remarked, “I’m sure you’ll find a good home for him and for all the other toys.”
Last year the ‘Toys for Tots’ program delivered more than 19.2 millions toys to over 7.6 million children. “CIA is honored to contribute to the ‘Toys for Tots’ program and work with the Marines, who really make it happen,” said CIA spokesperson Michele Neff. ‘Toys for Tots’ allows us to help spread cheer among children in need in our community, and it does so at a time of year that is defined by their happiness.”