Malibu Navy League hosts 13th annual Toys for Tots

Malibu Navy League held the 13th annual Toys for Tots event on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at First Bank in Cross Creek.

As part of a national effort run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, The Malibu Navy League coordinated its 13th annual Toys for Tots program in Malibu on Wednesday, Dec. 7. 

Since 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve has distributed toys to needy children during Christmas time to enjoy the holiday season. 

First Bank on Cross Creek was the official community drop-off site for toys.

The event on Wednesday began with the Langley Division U.S. Navel Sea Cadets and featured a visit from Mini Therapy Horses.

Malibu Navy League President John Payne said the Malibu community event was a success before it started. 

“This is probably a pretty good event for Toys for Tots,” Payne said. “It kind of slowed down with the pandemic and we’re trying to get it ramped up again but we’ve got almost 10 of these boxes for the Marines to pick up and we’ll get some more tonight.”

The Malibu Navy League is in its 13th year of organizing the Toys for Tots. 

“We’ve had over a dozen events, and it slowed down during the COVID times, but we’re back up and running,” Payne said. “If the toys for Tots boxes are the evidence for the success, this is a success, we’re still early and waiting for people to get here.”

Heidi Bernard of Pepperdine Crest Associates thanked First Bank for hosting and bringing everyone together.

“It’s a wonderful community event that we can all get behind that supports children who need toys,” Bernard said. “I see boxes that we’re already full before we even had the event tonight — we had to get more boxes because they were already filled. I think they’re even more motivated to help and share.”

Victoria Nodiff-Netanel of Mini Therapy Horses was excited to have mini horses Penelopy and Liberty Belle welcome everyone at the event. 

“We do a lot of community events, I have 10 little horses and I have wonderful volunteers, we all work as a team which is the best and helping people,” Nodiff-Netanel said. “The horses are very well-known in our community and really all over, so when they [the community] knows the horse will be here, they have a good turnout.”

Commanding officer John Steiner with the Langley Division U.S. Navel Sea Cadets said the cadets provide assistance for events such as Toys for Tots.

“The Malibu Navy League is putting on the event, they are our sponsor, and we give back to them,” Steiner said. “If they need assistance, this is community service for the cadets, and they called upon us for this evening.”

The event was visited by 101-year-old World War II veteran Martin Copenhafer, a 50-year Malibu resident. Copenhafer was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in July.

“I think it’s a great program,” Copenhafer said. “Seeing the horses here for the kids, John [Payne] is a great organizer and a real asset to this community.”

The Navy League is a nonprofit civilian organization founded in 1902 dedicated to educating the American public, particularly elected officials, about the importance of the nation’s sea services — the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S-flag Merchant Marines and supporting the men and women of the sea services and their families. The Navy League has approximately 46,000 members in more than 250 chapters around the world.