Play Comforts Brings Holiday Joy to Military Families at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

On December 2nd partners from the Toy Industry Foundation (TIF) and Boys and Girls Clubs of America landed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and arrived via U-boat for a special holiday toy distribution for families representing all branches of the military. The trip began at Radio GTMO with an interview with local dj Dr. J, broadcast on three stations base wide and announcing the weekend’s holiday toy giveaway. Saturday, December 4th the TIF team participated in the annual holiday parade through the town streets that culminated in a toy distribution with Santa at the Lyceum Theatre.

Christmas cheer was shouted out by young cheerleaders of all ages and commanding officer Captain Kirk Hibbert welcomed TIF Executive Director Jean Butler on stage to address the troops and their families. The gathering was the largest of its kind on base and each child from teen to toddler was able to take a home a toy of their choice.

The event was the last distribution of the year for the program that has served more than 25,000 children in its first year. The partnership began last holiday season at Walter Reed and plans are already underway to serve even more bases in 2011.

Special thanks to Karen Simon and the MWR team of volunteers for helping to make play possible. Toys distributed at the event were generously donated to TIF’s Toy Bank program by Cloud B, Daydream Toys, Hasbro, Little Kids, Inc., MindWare and exhibitors at Fall Toy Preview.

Photos by Harris Brandt