Muleskinners make a difference during toy ruck

Sgt. Liane Schmersahl 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Journalist

When Santa’s elves arrived on Fort Drum this year, they came waving guidons and carrying rucksacks, their traditional bell-shoes swapped out for boots, and black winter PT uniforms in place of red and green outfits.

The elves, or rather, the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Muleskinners, rucked hundreds of pounds of toys and nonperishable food items across post on Tuesday during the brigade’s annual Toy Ruck event, in support of the Mountain of Toys initiative.

The ruck began at the 10th Headquarters and Special Troops Battalion motor pool, leading the Soldiers through 20-degree weather to the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Center on 5th Armored Division Drive, where Santa and a crew of BOSS representatives met them to receive donations and grow the Mountain of Toys up for donation.

"This is all about Soldiers helping Soldiers," said Col. Shawn Schuldt, brigade commander. "It’s our job to take care of one another, and we’re here to make sure every child in the Fort Drum community has a present to open on Christmas morning."

Through a partnership between BOSS and the Sergeants Major Association, the Mountain of Toys initiative aims to provide donated toys for as many as 300 struggling Families within the Fort Drum community, reaching boys and girls of all ages.

"Today is a day of giving, worldwide," said Command Sgt. Maj. Octavia Greaves-Egyinam, brigade senior enlisted adviser, referencing "Giving Tuesday." "The Muleskinner Family decided it’s a time for us to give back to our Mountain Community Soldiers, and we thank all our Soldiers who volunteered today and gave of themselves to make the holidays brighter for the children and parents in our community."

Sgt. Amanda Brennan, of 33rd Financial Management Support Unit, said she enjoyed the opportunity to give back.

"It brought us all together as a Family to make sure we were taking care of our own," she said. "At the end of the day, we’re all basically aunts and uncles to each other’s children."

Muleskinners donated more than 300 toys during the ruck on Tuesday morning, and postwide, the drive has brought in more than 1,000 toys to distribute.

"So far this year, it looks like we’ve gotten a lot more toys than last year, and we seem to have a lot more people donating," said Sgt. William Matthews, vice president of the BOSS program. "The Muleskinners did a phenomenal job today."

Soldiers interested in participating in the Mountain of Toys initiative can contact the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program at (315) 772-7807, or they may deposit toy and food donations in the designated donation boxes placed across the installation.

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