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FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) – Hundreds of paratroopers dropped into Fort Benning, ready to brighten the holiday season for families in need. With the return of Operation Toy Drop, the U.S. Army collected over 500 toys to put under the tree for kids across the Valley.

304 paratroopers jumped. In return for collecting toys, they were awarded international jump wings. Families gathered on Fort Benning to watch as parachutes filled the sky.

Participants included members from the Australian and Canadian Army. After two years at Fort Benning, Australian Army Sergeant Major Joel McMahon completed his last assignment and final static line jump today for a greater purpose. He tells News 3, “getting to represent the country in such an important day like today, to help those under privileged children, it’s a real honor.”

Soldiers say events like this help better bridge the gap between military and civilians within the community and reminds them there is always something bigger about what they do in the U.S. Army.

Command Sergeant Major Derrick C. Garner, said he had a smooth landing while he participating in the jump. Command Sergeant Major Garner tells News 3, the thing he loves about what they do at Fort Benning beyond training America’s finest, is what they do for the community.

Garner says, “Christmas, it’s always a good thing when kids can wake up with something under the Christmas Tree and something to be happy about, and really be thankful that there’s folks out there that care.”

Through the event, the Army donated 500 toys that will go to Santa’s Castle on post and The Salvation Army.