Day 4 – The Marine


Day 4 – The Marine

 This week I will be sharing a Christmas story with you in six parts. It is an excerpt from my book, REMEMBERING WHEATFIELD BRIDGE, now available in paperback here and also on Amazon. Feel free to share the story with others as it enfolds each day. You may also visit my Facebook page – jonivannestauthor. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!


By Joni VanNest © 2016

 Day 4 – The Marine

The ears first caught his interest. They were sticking out of the bag – one at attention, one having fallen over, weary from being on the alert for a child to love. The gift bag containing the rabbit sat atop a large brightly colored cardboard box labeled Toys for Tots.

Sgt. Joe Farrington was part of a crew of volunteers rounding up donations from various drop sites around the area. His truck had already made several trips to the warehouse from other drop-off locations. The magnitude of goodwill the toy drive created, and even more so, the generosity it produced still amazed him. Like that guy who showed up at the warehouse this morning.

“Are you in charge?” the man asked.

“No, just one of the volunteers,” Joe replied.

“Then you’re just the person I need. Can you give me a hand with these?”

Joe peered into the back of the man’s pickup truck. Eight kids’ bikes in ascending sizes filled the truck bed. “Looks like you cleared out some lucky bike store.”

The man’s face shaded a hint of red. He looked down at his booted foot and kicked it forward and back. “I just want to do my part to make sure no kid who wants a bicycle this Christmas will go without one.”

Last year was the first time Joe took part in the program. It was enough to move his battle-hardened heart to melt upon seeing kids’ faces at Children’s Hospital light up when they handed out gifts. He believed that if no other good thing ever happened in his life again, the memory of those kids’ smiles would more than make up for it.

Joe pulled the bag containing the bunny out of the drop box, and turned it around by its thin rope handle. It was completely out of character for him, after all, he was a marine—a lean green fighting machine—but he had to see what was attached to those ears popping out of the bag. He gently lifted the doll out of the tissue wrap to take a look.

The rabbit was small against his large, sturdy and callused hands, but still he could sense the fluffy softness of its form. Then he noticed the ribbons. Lavender ribbons of silk, just like the one’s his wife put in their daughter’s hair, were tied at the base of each floppy ear, and also in a bow above the top button of her outfit. It was like looking at a Beatrix Potter version of his own little girl. He wondered about the child who would soon be hugging the bunny and once again his heart turned to mush. I must be going soft in my old age. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

…TO BE CONTINUED. Be sure to like my Facebook page, JoniVanNestAuthor, and to visit my website, to read the previous installments of Chain of Love. Please support Toys for Tots.


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