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Gallery: US marines bring Toys for Tots to Sillamäe

Personnel from the United States Marine Corps handed over toys to a children's home in the eastern Estonian town of Sillamäe, current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera reported at the weekend.

The gift-giving came as part of a U.S.-embassy-led initiative called "Toys for Tots", with marines based at the embassy in Tallinn visiting a children's home at Haiba, about halfway between Tallinn and Haapsalu, before Chrsitmas, and Sillamäe in the first week of the new year.

"To us it's very important; the Marine Corps has been participating in this program for over half a century, and we do it all across the United States in over 180 countries, so it's something we've always done and love doing, and are going to continue to do," Phillip Bartell of the U.S.M.C. told Aktuaalne kaamera.

The program has been running in Estonia for about 10 years.

Vadim Orlov, director of the Sillamäe Kodusoojus children's home, said the US Marines' visits are not just about giving gifts, but also have an educational dimension.

"This visit is almost a school lesson for children, where tolerance is taught, noting that there are many different people around us, and regardless of skin color or anything else, we see this first and foremost. This teaches us dignity and charity and so helps children develop their humanity," Orlov said.

The report also noted a pre-existing connection between Kodusoojus and the U.S., of sorts. The home is on Valeri Tškalovi tänav in Sillamäe; Valery Chkalov was a Russian test pilot who made the first non-stop flight from Moscow to the U.S., in 1937. Chkalov's over 9,000-kilometer flight in a Tupolev ANT-25 experimental bomber terminated in Vancouver, WA, where there is also a street bearing his name.

The original AK report (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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