– The streets of Springfield were filled with holiday tunes set to marching cadence Thursday as Soldiers of the 126th Brigade Support Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard, marched through the streets on their way to deliver gifts to the Ronald McDonald House on Chapin Street here, December 19.
The formation was welcomed with smiles, cheers, and honking cars as the roughly 20 Soldiers, accompanied by Santa Claus, made their way through the streets. A throng of Ronald McDonald House residents applauded and sang along as the group turned the corner and came into sight, capping off the unit’s 4.5 mile trek trough Springfield.
Battalion Soldiers collected toys for children staying in the house, along with office and administrative items for the charity’s office personnel.
“These children come from all over to attend doctor appointments at the local hospitals such as Baystate Medical Center and Shriner's Hospital here in Springfield,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sean Connor, 126th Brigade Support Battalion Senior Supply Noncommissioned Officer, who helped organize the effort. “These children and families are dealing with ailments or illnesses that require medical treatment at places that may not be close to home. Therefore, why not bring a little cheer to their holidays and put a smile on their faces during these tough times.”
Connor organized the efforts along with Sgt. 1st Class Jamison Dupuis. The idea, Dupuis said, was to help an organization that was located locally with the unit.
“We wanted to create an event that would help children right here in our community,” Dupuis said. “These kids, this organization, they’re right in the neighborhoods in which we serve. This is the right thing to do.”
Jessican Potito, Volunteer Coordinator for the Springfield house, said the gifts will make the holiday season a bit brighter for the children. “These kids wake up every day with smiles on their faces,” she said. “They’re running through the house the best they can, and to see them even happier – it’s just a heart-warming feeling.”
Connor said this was the first year the unit had orchestrated such an event. However, the overwhelmingly positive response from both the Soldiers and the children lead him to believe it will not be the last. “This was awesome,” he said. “We’ll be back, for sure.”
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Soldiers of the 126th Brigade Support Battalion gather before starting their 4.5-mile trek through the streets of Springfield to deliver gifts to the Ronald McDonald House here Thursday. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Doug Huddy, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs/Released)