MOSES LAKE — It’s a simple thing, really, helping a child on Christmas.
That’s what the Big Bend Community College Veterans Resource Office wanted to this weekend by giving away toys to veterans’ families.
“We just wanted to give back to our veterans and our families in the community,” said Jim Leland, BBCC’s veterans resource officer.
Across some tables in the Moses Lake Eagles Club, Leland helped organize and sort stacks of brand new, donated toys, everything from toy cars to Play-Doh to puzzles and games. The stuff you’d need to help make someone’s holiday just a little bit brighter.
“We had a nice turnout at the opening,” Leland said on Saturday afternoon as he took a break from organizing toys. “Now we have vets trickling in.”
The toys were provided by Operation Homefront, an organization dedicated to supporting military veterans and their families, and by discount retailer Dollar Tree.
It isn’t the first time Leland has organized a giveaway. At the beginning of the semester, he arranged a school supply drive for BBCC veterans and their family members.
A Big Bend student and veteran of what he called “the First Persian Excursion” — the 1991 Persian Gulf War to expel Iraq from Kuwait — Leland chose the Eagles Club because their Broadway Avenue clubhouse is easier for many veterans to get to.
“They were good enough to host this,” Leland said. “I wanted someplace in town that more central than the Big Bend campus. Formal instruction is over, and it just made more sense.”
The Fraternal Order of Eagles was founded by a group of Seattle theater owners 120 years ago in an attempt to deal with a musicians strike, according to the order’s web site. However, the Eagles quickly expanded beyond “The Order of Good Things,” and helped promote Mother’s Day, supported the creation of Social Security, and current fund cancer research.
If there are toys left over — Leland said he fairly certain they wouldn’t run out — they will probably be donated to another organization, such as the Salvation Army.
“We’ll pay it forward to someone else, make sure the rest of the community gets some of this too,” Leland said.