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L-169 elves give Santa an assist

L-169 business agent Jamie Ratliff takes a break on the forklift for a photo opp with Santa.

While Santa’s elves toiled at their North Pole toy shop, two L-169 Boilermaker elves were hard at work in Detroit to ensure underprivileged kids would have a Merry Christmas.

For weeks, retired Boilermaker and U.S. Army veteran Al Tajak collected toys and books for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s annual Toys for Tots drive. Donated items were to be brought to a Ford Motor Company facility located next door to the L-169 union hall and training center.

It so happened that a truck was to deliver the haul of toys for sorting and warehousing the same night as L-169’s meeting at the hall.  That’s a fortunate coincidence, because the Toys for Tots driver, “Santa,” needed some last-minute help unloading the goods. So, business agent Jamie Ratliff stepped up after the meeting to run a forklift, assisting Tajak and other volunteers.

The local effort collected 2,350 toys, 1,000 stocking stuffers and 100 books.

“Boilermakers Local 169 is proud to be able to help local charities during the holidays,” said L-169 BM-ST Bob Hutsell.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve runs its Toys for Tots program with Kroger Grocery stores and other partners and relies on volunteers like Tajak and Ratliff.  Now in its 76th year, Toys for Tots provides new toys for millions of children each year and requires more than 50,000 volunteers to pull off the amazing feat coordinated through local efforts throughout the country. In 2022, the drive supplied 24.4 million toys, books and games for more than 9.9 million kids.