“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” -Pablo Picasso

It all started with an idea. To our January Volunteers of the Month, Tom and Charlene Hoisington, this statement rings very true. Years ago, Tom, as part of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, had an idea to host a “Fill the Boat” Toy Drive when he was still living in Florida. Because it was such a success, he decided to bring his idea with him when he moved to the Central Valley. In 2015, he hosted the annual event to benefit the families staying at our House for the first time. With the efforts of him and his right hand lady, Charlene, they were able to raise 618 toys! It’s important to point out that during the event him and Charlene play and important role as Mr. and Mrs. Claus for the day. When he saw the impact it made on our families staying here and the cheer it brought them during the holiday season, he decided to hold the 2016 “Fill the Boat” Toy Drive in our honor again. Despite the rainy day, the event was still a great success and they were able to beat last year’s total with 625 toys and $500 raised in monetary donations. We thank you Tom and Charlene for giving our families a reason to celebrate during Christmas and congratulations on being our January Volunteers of the Month!

1. Your name and a little bit about yourself.

My name is Tom Hoisington (Hoy-Zing-Ton)

From Muskegon, Michigan. Graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Have served in the US Army and Coast Guard from 84 to 09. I have held many jobs in the military such as Raidoman, Cook, Tank Crewman, Military Police, Aircrew, and Recruiter. I have been stationed in many post throughout the US, and Germany and Korea. And have seen action in Iraq.

I am a current member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. I joined the auxiliary in Orlando, FL in 2011. I am now a part of the auxiliary in Modesto. 

I am a limousine driver, Married to a wonderful lady. Father of 5. Oldest is 31, Youngest is 20.

I am also the Co-founder of the Coast Guard Auxiliary “Fill the Boat” toy drive / Public Affairs event.

2. How did you start volunteering with our House?

Once I had gotten to California from Florida, I had the hosted the first Coast Guard Auxiliary “Fill the Boat” toy drive in the Central Valley. We hosted this for another children’s hospital. At first, they were very gracious for what we had done for them, The following year, they didn’t respond on timely bases which meant that time was not on our side. In spite of several attempts, the paperwork that was needed to move this forward seemed to be getting delayed.  This put me in a position of having to find another deserving organisation for the toys. I came across the RMHC. After an email and a couple of phone calls, the RMHC joined us for our toy drive in Modesto. 

3. What type of things have you done while volunteering?

I work at getting the Fill the Boat toy drive lined up. I usually start getting organizations and people lined up starting in mid August. This requires a lot of time doing face to face meetings. I have met with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, Modesto Fire Department, iHeart media, Coca-Cola, US Coast Guard and Auxiliary,Walmart, and of course the RMHC. 

There is a lot of time and effort that goes into planning a 1 day only event. But, when the public shows up and you see the smiles on their faces once they know were their donated toys or money are going. It’s all worth it.  

4. What is your favorite part of our House?

The toy room of course. LOL , And the caring staff such as Mia, Marisa, Sam, and Sven.

5. What is your favorite thing about volunteering at the House?

This is hard question to answer since I live a ways away from the House.  I guess for me, I get a thrill hearing stories about were the toys have gone, and how families who thought that Christmas would be just another day can now celebrate Christmas. Stories like this warms my heart and tell me that it’s all worth it. 

6. Tell us something fun about you that we don’t know. Hidden talent, funny story, favorite pastime, etc.

I play Santa and my wife plays Mrs Claus for the toy drive. I am a kid at heart as well. I collect toy planes. I enjoy building model planes for fun. I enjoy music from the 60’s,70’s and 80’s and a few from the 90’s.

I am not very computer savvy. To me, technology peeked with frozen pizza’s.

Hidden fact, I used to be a field sales rep for Ringling Brothers Circus. 

I hope to win a red vet. Santa needs a new sleigh.