Shelby unit fills trucks with toys

An Army training unit from Camp Shelby is teaming up with holiday shoppers to make this Christmas season a special one for some needy kids and it involves filling up two 5-ton Army truck with toys.

It was all part of the, "Fill the 5-Ton" toy drive, hosted by members of the 87th Training Support Division at the post.

The toys will be distributed this Christmas to some under-privileged children in the Hattiesburg School System.

"We're out here, trying to do as much good as we possibly can, to give back to the response that the Hattiesburg community has given to us," said Sergeant First Class Bennie Hooten, one of the volunteers with the 3rd Batallion of the 349th Regiment, who collected toys this afternoon.

Sergeant Hooten and about one dozen other volunteers handed out flyers to shoppers at the Highway 49 and Highway 98 Super Walmarts, encouraging them to donate to the campaign.

Shoppers like Diana Sawyer of Hattiesburg did just that.

"These guys are working very hard protecting our country and they're still thinking about the community, so I think it's our duty to help them," Sawyer said.

And Sawyer wasn't the only one that helped.

Hundreds of others donated toys, games or cash for the campaign, showing the soldiers that Pine Belt residents already have the christmas spirit.

"The people are great," said Sergeant John Siegwarth, another volunteer with the 3rd Batallion.

"They have big open hearts, giving shopping carts full of toys and it's just a really good time," Siegwarth said.

The soldiers say most of the toys will be donated to needy children at Rowan Elementary School, which has been adopted by the 3rd Batallion of the 349th Regiment.