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Marines deliver gifts to tots spending holiday in hospital
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A row of tiny stockings hang Friday in the Women & Children’s Pavilion at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Children spending Christmas in the hospital got a little more holiday cheer this year.

Volunteers from the Upper Chattahoochee Detachment of the Marine Corps League were up early on Christmas morning to bring gifts to children at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Marines traditionally work in groups of four, known as fire teams. For the Marine League, Christmas was no different.

Commandant Wally Calderon, Chaplain Steven Bruce and Adjutant Ted Golab, along with past commandant Frank Cornell and Santa Claus, teamed up to deliver toys to the children.

"It’s the forgotten ones up here," Calderon said. "You never hear about the kids in the hospital. We want to make sure everyone gets a Christmas present."

For some of the men, volunteering on Christmas has become a tradition. Cornell has been involved with Toys for Tots since he became a Marine in 1950.

Luckily, there were not too many children in the hospital’s pediatric wing Friday. Golab said 18 children were released this week so they could spend the holiday with their families.

The remaining patients were babies ranging from 20 days to 8 months old who received soft stuffed animals from the Marine Corps League, a service organization of current and former Marines.

"The league itself is the official sponsor for Toys for Tots in Hall County," Calderon said.

"By their generosity in the community, that makes all of this possible," Golab said.

"We’re just an arm for them."

The nurses on duty were happy to be there with the families who had to spend Christmas at the hospital.

"I love working on Christmas," nurse Janet Thompson said. "We get to make their Christmas merry, too."

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