Not in Texas, but still a powerful read about the work of one Marine recently, driving the back roads of West Virginia, visiting a few rural inhabitants of Preston County. Sergeant William Weber was on a mission, but not the type of mission we’re accustomed to reading about these days, for the enemy that night was much closer to home…as told by Sgt Weber.
“I threw my dress blues on tonight because a celebrity donated a bike to Toys 4 Tots and wanted a photo of the child receiving the bike from a Marine in uniform. The young fella was so happy he couldn’t even look up as his mom snapped the photo. Cute kid.
But then my night took a turn I didn’t expect. I was in Preston county West Virginia, one of the poorest areas of the state. I had several families who couldn’t afford the gas money to make the hour long trip to my distribution center in Clarksburg, so after the bike photo, I delivered to 3 additional families in the county.
In 8 years of coordinating T4T campaigns, I’ve encountered only a hand full of experiences that have made lasting memories. Thank you Christmas cards, hugs from crying parents, homemade Christmas ornaments from thankful kids… I’ll never forget these things. Tonight, in my shiny dress uniform, I twice pulled into driveways of homes you would not expect to see in a prosperous nation. I stepped out of my car into mud. I was greeted by families who were so thankful I hadn’t forgotten them, and made the trip for them. I shook the calloused hand of a tired father who was grateful for the small bag of toys I handed him for his young daughter. It was a precious experience to get out to interact one on one with the people this program helps. To put a face to the name.
But I drove away and couldn’t help it when my eyes started to water. In the smile of that tired father, and grateful mother, I saw my parents. I saw my parents 20 years ago. And I felt awful I couldn’t do more for those parents I met tonight. I didn’t expect to be touched so deeply today… But I was humbled by those families tonight, and reminded what Toys 4 Tots is all about. I am so thankful for the chance to give back, and I’ll continue to strive to keep people safe, comfortable, and happy. I encourage everyone to help others. The reward is more than you might realize.
The Marine Corps is well know for its warfighting abilities…we never fail. Poverty is a different foe, but I’ll keep fighting until I don’t have to meet anymore families in muddy driveways.”
Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish