Katie Becker, like many kids her age, can't wait for Christmas morning. She's eagerly anticipating opening up gifts along side her brother, sister and a whole house of family members. But Katie also recognizes that not every child will wake up to presents under a Christmas tree. And this year, she wanted to play a role in changing that.
"Our teacher asked us if we would think about donating to someone our own age," explained Katie, who turned 10 in November. "So I starting thinking about doing something for someone my age. I knew I wanted to donate for my birthday because I have so many toys and don't really need any more."
As Katie planned her 10th birthday she asked that her friends bring gifts, not for her, but for her Toys for Tots charity donation.
When Staff Seargant Eric Grossman, a Coordinator with the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots Program, heard about Katie's plan, he asked her parents if he could make a surprise appearance at her party.
Katie's friends arrived with gifts for children of all ages and filled a special donation box in Katie's living room.
Then they heard a knock at the door.
Sgt. Grossman had arrived in blue dress uniform to collect the toys and thank Katie personally for her generocity.
"My parents told me they had a surprise planned for us and I thought they were going to take us to a movie," beamed Katie. "This was way better! I had no idea he was coming. If I had known I probably would have dressed better."
Tonight Sgt. Grossman was back to present Katie with the Commaner's Award. While she was excited to receive the certificate, which her parents hinted she may find framed under the tree next Wednesday, Katie just hopes she makes a few other kids Christmases as bright as hers.
"I hope that they have a roof over their heads and that they know their parents got them something for Christmas and that Santa visited them," said Katie. "I know that most of them won't be able to get something every year at Christmas like me."