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In Memory of 15 ASMC members killed in the Pentagon attack.  9/11/2001


  Community Service Report of Abundance and Gratitude!


There are a lot of thanks due to a number of people who helped make this past holiday season better for many people. 

The food we collected for Thanksgiving and Christmas filled four large crates and was delivered to Carpenter’s Shelter.  Thanks to all of you who contributed!!!  Usually they give out the food to families who had recently graduated from the shelter to homes of their own.  They still live in very tight financial circumstances and still have the shelter coach them, but are on their way to self sufficiency.  These families really appreciate the help we provided. 

The toys ASMC Washington Chapter members provided through the Toys for Tots program was a major portion of the toys for the older children we gave gifts to just before Christmas.  We had 417 children signed up who are the children and grandchildren of the employees of the three companies who clean the Pentagon.  About 125 of these children are between the ages of 12 and 16.  The Marine Corps provides excellent gifts for the younger children, but for the older ones the Chapter buys gifts.  As in previous years, we were able to purchase great books and art kits from Borders in Pentagon City.  Manager “Jim” and youth book expert “Mary” not only helped us in picking appropriate books for this age group, but also gave us 50% off on all bargain books and kits.  This allowed the chapter to buy over 70 items for less than $250.  We also purchased McDonald’s coupons and movie coupons and board games with the balance of the $500 the Washington Chapter donated and the cash that was given us at the Holiday Social.  The Marine Corps members of ASMC with the encouragement of Sandra Wright also donated another two large boxes of items that were appropriate for the older children. 

After the disappointment of last year, when the Marines did not have nearly enough toys to even give one per child, this year they more than made up for it.  In past years, we rented a truck to pick up the toys, but after the meager amount last year, I was afraid that a truck would be a waste of chapter funds so I volunteered to take my own 1 ton pickup to bring the toys to the Pentagon from Acquia Harbor.  I’m still glad that I did not rent a truck, more on that later, but in addition to filling my truck, I had to make two more trips with my van, which also holds a lot.  So the toys were great and abundant.  Thanks to the Marines at Quantico who worked with us and kept me coming back for more.

I was petrified that the forecasted snow would complicate my delivery of the toys.  Although I have a great truck that we got for my eventual need when we move to West Virginia in the spring, it is a big vehicle, and I’m still not 100% comfortable driving it, and have never had to put it in 4-wheel drive.  Thank the Lord, the snow was replaced by intense cold, but I had no problem driving.


The only challenge that had me and my  husband discouraged was the lack of communications between the Pentagon Building Loading Dock and the Security that is employed.  The week before the scheduled delivery of the toys, I provided all the necessary makes, models, tags, etc.  the Loading Dock requires before a vehicle can get past security.  Unfortunately this information did not make it into the “SYSTEM” by Monday morning and I could not get into the loading dock area.  So I went to the Building Manager’s office where they assured me that my information was received and I was present during the call to the Dockmaster.  So I went around again, going through the inspection and search by dogs, etc. a second time.  I still did not get in.  So I called the Building Manager again, and they assured me that the Dockmaster called the Security person at the gate, to let me through.  It still did not work.  After three times I gave up.  Drove the loaded truck home, and got my van to pick up the balance of the toys from the Marines.  I could not get all of them to fit, so they asked that I come back on the following morning.  What was in my van on Monday, some 8 large black trash bags full of toys was transferred to a Government van that could get into the building so my van was again empty for the third load.  Tuesday morning the balance of my load had disappeared at the Marine warehouse so after all the other orders were filled (well over an hour) they gave me “one each” toy for the below teen ages again, since we had no idea what was missing.

So my apologies to the folks who were going to help sort the toys and otherwise assist on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.  It was Tuesday afternoon before we could get everything to the “Toy Room” where we did the sorting.  Also since I was on the road or circling the Pentagon, I did not get a chance to call some of you in time.   By the way, finally on Tuesday my vehicle information made it into the “SYSTEM” and except for the normal inspection by security folks and beautiful dogs, everything worked.  The dock workers unloaded my truck and van and transported all the toys to the Toy Room.  Miraculously, the scaffolding that impeded us on the previous day’s delivery was also gone on Tuesday. 

A special thanks goes to Mr. Darryl Diggs of the Building Manager’s office.  He found us a room to work in, helped to deliver some of the toys to that room from our holiday social and my van, when the “SYSTEM” did not let me do it, and even provided me with a scooter for the three days, so that I could travel between my office and the Toy Room as needed.  My arthritic knees and partial lung thank him also.

The wonderful person who was in charge of this project for the first time, Judith Brown, did a lot of the preliminary work, but was on leave/TDY when all this was taking place.  She came in all the way from Fort Belvoir to meet with the representatives of the three companies that received the toys, made up forms, recruited volunteers and collected the cash.  She came with me to Borders to buy the books, as did Coy.  More on him later.  Please give lots of support to Judith if you want this project to continue in the future.

Many thanks to a wonderful volunteer, Arlillian Coleman, who was to help us on Monday, and stood by most of the day, while we were trying to get the toys into the Pentagon.

Many thanks also to Steve Pawlow, who not only came in on the bus, off of leave, but got my husband, Coy checked in as a visitor while I was finally getting the truck and van unloaded at the loading dock on Tuesday.  We also had great support from Lucy Williams, Yolanda Doddato, Hettye Kirkland and Sonya Wells.

They all worked so well in sorting the toys, that the first company, Tri-Ark, was fully sorted before we left on Tuesday evening.  Their party was on Wednesday at noon.  Sandra Wright and Coy distributed the gifts while the rest of the team kept sorting the gifts for the other two companies.    By 5 p.m. that evening all 417 children’s gifts were labeled, bagged, and ready for delivery.

Tri-Ark Holiday Party

The bags were donated by the companies who received the toys.  The labels were printed by Coy.  Between the labels and the pictures we took (and printed some), he used up quite a bit of ink, which is the only administrative cost of this project.  All the time, gas, etc. were donated this year.

One of the companies, DidLake, had their party early, so we did not attend the distribution of the toys there.  However, Sandra, Coy and I did attend the party at Chimes, where Sandra most ably took pictures of Santa Coy and the recipients of the toys as he was helped by Annie and others from Chimes.  The gifts for the night crews were carefully locked up, to ensure their safe distribution.

Chimes Holiday Party

Somehow two people did not originally get gifts for the children they signed up, and those were also carefully taken care of individually.

Of course there is no way to thank all the thousands of folks who donated toys for the Toys for Tots drive the Marine Corps collected this year.  Nor can we adequately thank the Marines who participate in this drive.  One young man I was talking to had spent the previous four weeks of his life, driving an old 5 speed U-haul truck all over the country, picking up toys.  In the freezing weather of the 20th and 21st with anxious parents all wanting the best for their children, they kept their cool and even their sense of humor, which was admirable.

In all we saved a large bag of stuffed animals for the spring Bunnies for Babies community service project, and had some toys left over that will go to the Mount Eagle school students, for whom Jean Terrill, your Community Service Chair, has been delivering food, buying gloves, scarves, hats, etc.  and who also got the school supplies earlier this year.

In all it has been a great year for community service for the Washington Chapter.

One of our favorite projects in the past has been Habitat for Humanities.  This year we did not get to work on a house, but there are great opportunities for volunteering at their new ReStore (7770-G Richmond Highway, Alexandria, behind Gold's Gym) where they sell to the public building materials and appliances that are donated to Habitat for Humanities.  The prices are great and there are lots of things we found we could use.  They need both volunteers and customers so check them out.

Finally, I’d like to thank my husband, Coy Rahman, for all he has done.  He made the 1251 labels for the gifts and bags, took pictures at the Holiday Social and at the toy sorting and distribution, played Santa to the hilt, rode with me to get the toys and help pick out the books, and was involved in the last 4 days in the process every bit of the way.  In addition to all the hugs he got as Santa, he also got a cold that has him coughing so bad, he had to miss Christmas dinner with our family.  Yet he’d be the first one to do it again if he got a chance.  Love and Light to all of you and thanks for the opportunity to do all this.

Clara Weston,
Community Service Chair
Washington Chapter of ASMC


This  page last updated:  July 13, 2014
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