Academy President Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich (left) with Exchange Club President Ms. Nita Stewart

Academy President Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich (left) with Exchange Club President Ms. Nita Stewart

The Exchange Club, a local service organization that has held its semi-monthly meetings on the United States Sports Academy campus for almost a year, showed appreciation for the Academy’s hospitality with large donations to the Toys for Tots campaign.

The Academy and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Foundation are teaming up for the 16th consecutive year to help underprivileged children in Mobile and Baldwin Counties enjoy a memorable Christmas. The campaign related well to the sentiments of the Exchange Club, which spends most of the funds raised through its projects towards the prevention of child abuse.

Exchange Club President Nita Stewart said her organization has kept a box at each meeting to collect toy donations, and the donations have kept coming in since the club started meeting at the Academy this past December.

“It’s just our way of showing our appreciation to Dr. Rosandich for letting us meet here,” Stewart said.

The Exchange Club is a community service organization that sponsors projects to prevent child abuse, support youth programs and promote patriotism. Every Veteran’s Day, the club displays 300 American flags on the grounds of the U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Park where people are invited to pay $25 to sponsor a flag in honor of a veteran or a departed police officer or fireman. The donors are given the option to keep the flag or pay to re-display it the following year.

“It’s been unbelievable how many people brought their flags back this year,” Stewart said.

Local residents may bring Toys for Tots donations to the Academy each Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until 10 December. The Academy encourages individuals, schools, clubs, associations, and businesses in the area to drop off their new, unwrapped toys to help assist those who need it most at this time of year.

The Toys for Tots program was founded in 1947 by Marine Corps Maj. William L. Hendricks, when Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles first collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The following year, the Marine Corps Reserve adopted the concept and made it a national endeavor.