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NEWS | Dec. 16, 2021

Fort Riley SRU Soldiers, Staff Send 121 Boxes of Toys to Children in Mexico

By D.P. Taylor Army

They say that during the holiday season, it's better to give than to receive. For Soldiers and staff at the Fort Riley Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in Kansas, that was definitely true: in fact, filling 121 boxes with toys to be sent to underprivileged kids abroad was downright therapeutic for recovering Soldiers, the chaplain said.

On Nov. 19, more than 30 people gathered at the SRU to fill the boxes, and many more than that donated to the cause. Rebecca Weston, adaptive reconditioning support specialist at the SRU, said that various people bring the toys — along with necessities like toothbrushes — and the Soldiers and staff spent the day filling the boxes so a charity could send them all around the world. Their particular boxes were sent to children in Mexico.

Capt. Daniel Ritchie, who serves as chaplain at the SRU, helped run the event. It's been held in the past, but not last year due to COVID-19. The SRU partners with a worldwide charity, and volunteers fill shoeboxes with small toys, socks, and other things a child would need if they were a refugee or living in an impoverished country.

"We provided all the boxes, but the Soldiers volunteered," Ritchie said.

The boxes are labeled for a boy or girl, and for a specific age range, and then they are shipped off. The goal was to fill 90 boxes, but they exceeded that by 31.

"We were surprised by the turnout and response," Ritchie said.

He said it was good to see many of the Soldiers enjoy the event as they are dealing with struggles of their own, from serious injuries and illnesses to depression and anxiety.

"There's a whole host of difficulties they're dealing with, but it's wonderful to see people who came together and were smiling and laughing, and doing something for other people," Ritchie said.

It’s an event that can have a lasting impact on not just the children who receive, but those at the SRU who chose to give, he added.

"It's amazing to see how service and being self-sacrificial can actually be therapeutic," he said. "Healing can be this dynamic process where, by caring for the needs of others, your own needs are met."

The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Visit our website at https://arcp.army.mil