Fat Albert delivered holiday cheer to local familiesDec 9th, 2010 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
Hundreds of children from financially distressed families in Plaquemines Parish and the New Orleans metro area will be able to celebrate the holidays with what will surely be a welcome surprise this year: presents.
Multiple pallets of donated toys were flown into the Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in Belle Chasse on Dec. 2 aboard the C-130 cargo plane of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, famously dubbed “Fat Albert.”
“We’re still rebounding from the oil spill,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser at the ceremony held before the toys were unloaded. “Some families do not yet have a BP check. Christmas won’t wait.”
The majority of the toys were donated by Lockheed Martin employees – maker of the “Fat Albert” plane – to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program and the United Way for Greater New Orleans. The toy retailer, Toys ‘R’ Us also donated a portion of toys as part of their national campaign to raise $1 million worth of toys for Toys for Tots.
“This is more of the other sites donating to Louisiana,” said Matt Wallo, a local site manager for Lockheed Martin, of the two sister companies located outside the state that are responsible for the toy donations. “The community is still in need here and we got a great response.”
Former Saints player and Super Bowl XLIV champion Charles Grant and members of the Southern hip-hop group Nappy Roots attended the event through Humanity For All, a fashion company that donates 25 percent of its net profits to charity.
Before Humanity For All volunteers came to the military base to help unload toys, they were building 10 homes in the area for their holiday program, said Helena Cho, the founder of Humanity For All.
Members of the United Way also came to help unload toys.
“Nothing can break a parent’s heart more than knowing you can’t do for your child,” said Barbara Turner Windhorst, a campaign chairperson for the United Way for Greater New Orleans. “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
In addition to volunteering at the event, the United Way is also working to provide safe and affordable housing to the local people still living in temporary FEMA trailers through their “No Place Like Home” campaign.
The toys that arrived in Belle Chasse on Dec. 2 will be distributed throughout the area in about two weeks, according to Wallo.
In the 63 years of its existence, the Toys for Tots program has donated about 400 million toys to 180 million children.