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Browns, Marines help distribute toys

Posted Dec 18, 2013

BROOKLYN -- The Cleveland Browns and United States Marine Corps Reserve spent Tuesday organizing and distributing toys to children in the Cleveland community.

BROOKLYN -- What started with a teddy bear more than seven decades ago has turned into a nationwide initiative for the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

As has become a holiday tradition, the United States Marine Corps collected donations for their annual Toys For Tots campaign, and on Tuesday, the Browns united with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment headquartered in Brook Park to distribute toys to those in need this holiday season.

“Toys for Tots has a long tradition of supporting kids nationwide, and here, in Cleveland, we’re really proud to work with the local Marines to have this collection for the holidays to support the kids in the community,” said Jenner Tekancic, director of community relations for the Browns. “The Browns have been hosting a gate collection as a way for our fans to give back, and we’re always impressed and grateful of all of the donations that come in through the Cleveland Browns’ drive.

“To be on site today with players helping out behind the scenes, after the donations are collected at the game, is inspiring knowing the toys represent children who otherwise may not have a holiday gift.”

Through their annual game day collection this season, the Browns collected over 1,100 toys and nearly $15,000 in monetary donations for additional toy purchases.

“Without the Cleveland Browns, we couldn’t do half of what we’re able to do every year,” said Gunnery Sergeant Quavis Shuler, a 16-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. “They’re always there for us. They support us in any way that they can, and we really do appreciate it. Without the Browns organization, we couldn’t do it.”

Shuler said that while giving a child a toy is important, the most important thing is for everyone to understand that people in the Cleveland community are in need of help.

“Not only are they getting a toy, but it’s all of us understanding that there are kids out there that are less fortunate than ourselves,” Shuler said. “Anything that we can do to make them happy and put that smile on their faces, it’s just heartwarming. The community coming together and donating money, and then, these organizations allowing us the time to come in, do interviews and then, all of the donations of the toys and the money, it’s just phenomenal.”

In addition to the Marines that were on hand in their dress uniforms, several members of the Browns, including linebackers Jabaal Sheard and Craig Robertson, kicker Billy Cundiff, defensive back Johnson Bademosi and long-snapper Christian Yount, helped children pick out toys for Christmas.

“The Marine Corps does an awesome thing with Toys For Tots and supplying toys for kids that otherwise might not have a lot for Christmas,” Yount said. “If we can be out here helping and doing whatever we can do to help support the Marine Corps and kids, it’s great.

“I like it because my family’s in California. I don’t have a lot of family out here, so I like doing things like that to help support other people because if I can’t be with them, enjoying the holidays in that way, I like doing stuff like this for the Marine Corps and city of Cleveland in any way I can.”

Robertson said events like Tuesday, where he gets to help children, mean “everything” to him.

“For one, it gives a kid a smile on their face,” Robertson said. “Everyone’s not as fortunate to get the kinds of gifts that they want, and it’s a great thing that Toys For Tots does. They let a kid come in and pick a gift, and for us to be a part of that, that’s awesome. They may want a certain thing, and they can come in and actually get it. Instead of making a list and hoping they get it, they can come out and pick what they want.

“This is my second year doing this, and it gets better every year. Definitely helping kids and helping anybody, that’s always a reward. That’s what you look forward to doing once we’re in the position we’re in now.”

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