More than 1,000 Fort Bragg paratroopers jumped from C-130 aircraft and helicopters for a good cause as part of the 82nd Airborne Divisions’ annual Presents from Paratroopers holiday toy drive.
About 600 of the soldiers were selected in a special raffle. To enter the raffle, each paratrooper donated a toy to the Travis Mills Foundation which serves as the program’s civilian partner.
About 1,500 toys were donated this year. The foundation distributes the toys to charities around the state including the North Carolina Children’s Home Society, the Armed Services YMCA, the Fort Bragg USO, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Fayetteville Urban Ministry.
This year’s jumpers had the opportunity to earn Chilean Army jump wings. Troops are authorized to wear the wings on their dress uniforms.
“It’s great to get your foreign wings, but [the toy drive] has a bigger purpose: giving back to the community and being able to bring the unit together,” said 1st Lt. Blake Wilson. “That’s what brings us all joy.”
He donated a new kids’ bike to secure his place in the jump.