An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

PRANG partners with Toys for Tots and the Blue Angels for the Holidays

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Eliezer Soto
  • 156th Wing

MUÑIZ AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, PR -- The 156th Wing received, for the second consecutive year, the C-130J Super Hercules "Fat Albert" assigned to the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, as part of a toy distribution of more than 25,000 toys through the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program to children across Puerto Rico, Dec. 15, 2023.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 156th Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, provided logistic support to the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, for unloading 16 pallets of toys that will be distributed during this Holiday season in partnership with Toys for Tots.

"Supporting this great initiative by the Blue Angels and the Marines Toys for Tots allows the Puerto Rico Air National Guard Airmen to collaborate in impacting our local communities by providing comfort and hope to children during this Holiday season," said U.S. Air Force Col. Evaristo Orengo, the 156th Wing commander. "We are honored to be able to contribute to a 76-year national charitable program, such as Toys for Tots, through our Airmen's efforts and our flight line capabilities."

For U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Natalia Luchetti, the assistant maintenance officer with the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, who is the first Puerto Rican female maintenance officer in Blue Angels history, coming back to her country filled her with a sense of pride and honor.

"I feel proud and honored to be here representing my country while bringing warmth and joy to children during the Holidays with this
group," said Luchetti. "As a little girl living in Puerto Rico, I was impacted by the Toys for Tots program, so I am honored and privileged to be with this organization, giving back to other children what I received.”

In addition to providing logistical support, U.S. Airmen with the 156th Wing teamed up with U.S. Marines assigned to Det. 1 Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 45, 4th Marine Logistics Group, to participate in one of this year's Toys for Tots toy distributions at Dr. Julio J. Henna Elementary School, where children and families from Villa Palmeras community received more than 180 toys on Dec. 14, 2023.

"It is amazing having the Puerto Rico Air National Guard involved as volunteers in the foundations of Toys for Tots," said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Yadiel Burgos-Benitez, a Toys for Tots coordinator, assigned to Det. 1 Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 45, 4th Marine Logistics Group. "This event has a powerful impact in the community, and it also gives us a wholesome feeling by seeing the smiles on the children's faces as they receive their toys."

For Maria Bernal-Zarzuela, a community leader from Villa Palmeras who has worked as assistant coordinator for Toys for Tots for the past seven years, the program has allowed her and other leaders to spread joy in their communities.

"Thanks to Toys for Tots we are able to be the face of happiness for children in our community during the Holiday season," said Bernal-Zarzuela. "Partnering with Toys for Tots has supported me and other community leaders in impacting many communities through a remarkable initiative for the children."