Serving My Community: Keeping it Local

By Edward Brennan 

It is hard to believe it has been three years! After a long stint in the sunny state of Florida, my wife and I moved to the wonderful state of South Carolina to enjoy variations in seasons, topography, and recreational opportunities. Plus, I was under direct orders from my wife to be closer to grandchildren…she won!

No matter where we live there is always need. As a U.S. Marine, I continue to support the Toys for Tots program now in its 75th year.  The mission of the Marine Toys for Tots Program is to collect new unwrapped toys and distribute those toys to less fortunate children at Christmas and help to bring the joy of Christmas while sending a message of hope. The program has over the years has included both a literacy program and allows for online cash donations as many of us no longer perform the gauntlet of shopping at the malls and wading through cheerful humanity in celebrating the joy of shopping – online has its benefits but made it difficult to emplace the donation boxes for toys.

There are many worthy organizations. I truly respect the Toys for Tots program as 97% of donations go directly to providing toys, books, and other gifts to less fortunate children with only 3% spent on support principally covers fundraising expenses. It is truly a volunteer organization with no salaries.

Many know of this joy of giving. Sadly, the lingering effects of Covid-19, inflation, and other economic issues has had notable impact on both donations and added requests this year. During the 2022 Campaign, Marine Toys for Tots distributed over 24.3 million toys, books, and games to over 9.9 million children in need. In the greater Columbia, SC area, we were able to support over 4,129 children with 22,489 toys delivered. I am proud to be part of an event that brings many organizations together, schools, police and fire departments, local business, and social organization all pulled to together to make 2022 a success.

I have been either, wise, fortunate, or cagey in never having to be on a community service work gang. Still, I have enjoyed the humility of volunteering to lead a local Adopt a Highway crew for the local Keep the Midlands Beautiful campaign. I was honored to be part of this program as it allowed me to engage our greater community and neighbors while having a little bit of fun and accepting humility as a “trash picker upper”.  The Adopt a Highway Program has 33 years of service in helping keep Lexington County clean with assistance from the SC Department of Transportation.

Regularly cleaning areas helps reduce the amount of litter that is dropped on the site. Regularly cleaning areas helps reduce the amount of litter that is dropped on the site and making our presence known gives hope that others might t not feel the need to toss trash. Our crew of wrangled volunteers meets several times a year to patrol a 3-mile road in mostly rural countryside.

Coming soon and in May 2023! As an Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) member and pilot with our local chapter, I am proud to be part of the team hosting the EAA ford Trimotor aircraft in raising funds to expand the knowledge of aviation in the hopes of further STEM and pilot training for the next generation of youth while keeping aviation history  and the “Spirit of Aviation” alive. 199 Ford Trimotors were built between 1926 and 1933 with only six still able to take to the skies. NC8407 first flew on August 21, 1929, and had a storied history including Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart while becoming the first airplane belonging to Eastern Air Transport in the very early days of airline operations.

The program is as team efforts of pilots, maintenance professions, and other volunteers that keep her flying. I will again serve as both historian and safety officer during the week of festivities at Columbia SC airport. (CAE). Ticket and merchandise sold help to foster aviation while preserving history. I truly enjoy giving the history briefing to attendees young and old while once meeting an individual who flew across the country to buy a ticket since that particular aircraft was his first flight in 1931… Wow!

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