Leaders of the Kent County Toys for Tots program say the planned departure of a Grand Rapids based U.S. Marine Corps reserve unit will present the charity with new challenges.

The Marines provide publicity, manpower and logistical support for Toys for Tots.

But the headquarters for A Co., 1st BN., 24th Marines is moving to Battle Creek. Commanders say their facility on Monroe Avenue in Grand Rapids is old and no longer meets their training requirements.

Without a reserve unit based in Grand Rapids, there won't be any Marines nearby to participate in the Toys for Tots campaign.

“We will now be an hour to an hour and a half away,” explains company commander Capt. Michael Clark. “So the feasibility of our being able to support the Toys for Tots program here will be significantly reduced.”

“We are going to miss them terribly,” says Mindy Pierman of Toys for Tots. “It is going to be a lot of transition and we are going to need a lot of community support if we are going to be able to pull this off without them.”

The majority of the Grand Rapids reserve unit is currently serving in Afghanistan. They are due back in May and the unit move to Battle Creek is expected before the Kent County Toys for Tots campaign begins next fall.

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