Quinn Phillips, 5, was the smallest individual Wednesday night at a meeting of the Central Delaware Marine Corps League, but he stood straight as he received two awards for donating his birthday toys to Toys for Tots for the past four years.
"It was something I started," said his mother, Crystal Phillips, of Hartly. "We took a full Toys for Tots donation box starting with his fourth birthday. Once he understood at five, he insisted that it become a tradition."
Quinn, who attends the Calvary Christian School on Route 10, walked bravely to the front after being summoned by Central Delaware Commandant Ralph Willis, of Milford. There, Quinn received two framed certificates; one was from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, praising Quinn for his "outstanding support of Toys for Tots in 2012." It was signed by Lieutenant General Steven Hummer. The second was a "distinguished citizen award, in appreciation and gratitude," for his contributions, presented by the Central Delaware Marine Corps League and signed by Willis.
Following the presentation, last year's toy drive was reviewed.
Willis and Assistant Drive Chairman Dennis Sipple said there was a slow start in collections, followed by an unprecedented burst of generosity from Kent County individuals and businesses.
The Marines collected 4,402 toys, 124 books and 828 "stocking stuffers," which are new, small gifts that recipients can add to make Christmas a little more satisfying for underprivileged children. The Toys for Tots Foundation added 1,840 toys.
In the end, the Marines distributed 7,363 toys, the books and the stocking stuffers. As a result of the generosity of Kent County citizens and businesses, several bicycles were donated.
"Every parent that received a bicycle wept," said Sipple. With no notice, donors were dropping off large numbers of toys at the headquarters, the former Blockbuster store in the Greentree Shopping Center on Route 8.
And Quinn, who allowed that "This is my first award," went home to Hartly, ready to donate again for Christmas 2013.