More than 1,000 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, participated in the second annual All-American Presents from Paratroopers Toy Drive (A2P2) on Wednesday and Thursday, donating between 1,500 and 2,000 toys to local children in need.
This event was held in partnership with the Travis Mills Foundation, an organization that brings families of wounded military veterans in Maine on vacation.
With the donation of a toy, each paratrooper automatically entered a special raffle to participate in a parachute jump with a member of the Chilean military. Approximately 600 of the paratroopers won the prize and received a special foreign badge for their uniforms.
The foundation plans to distribute the toys to various organizations throughout the state, including USO Fort Bragg, the North Carolina Children’s Home Society, the Armed Forces YMCA, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and the Fayetteville City Department, the publication said.
To qualify for the special drop, soldiers had to be assigned to an airborne unit and have active drop status, although active officers of the North Carolina National Guard and Army Reserve were also eligible, the Army Times reported.
The paratroopers made helicopter jumps for one day and cargo jumps for one day to two designated drop zones. The vehicles operated at reduced capacity and all participants wore masks to reduce the possibility of a COVID 19 outbreak.
Washington Newsday contacted the Travis Mills Foundation to comment.
The Travis Mills Foundation is not the only government organization that makes donations to needy children in North Carolina during the holidays.
The North Carolina Community Action Association, a group dedicated to helping impoverished families throughout the state, is running a 12-day Christmas drive to distribute gifts and food boxes to families in need. The care packages cost on average about $15 per person and $100 per family.
North Carolina ranks 11th among the states with the highest rates of child poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which found that children in the state have a poverty rate of 21.2 percent and that children in rural and eastern areas of the state are more likely to live in poverty.
An estimated 43 percent of all children in North Carolina live in poor or low-income families, according to NC Child, a state child rights organization. The organization has reported that childhood poverty increases a child’s chances of less success in school, more exposure to violence, hunger, abuse and neglect, and parents trapped in the justice system.