Marine Corps Toys For Tots
It is that time of year. You can literally smell, taste, and hear Christmas. The car radio has malfunctioned and plays nothing but various versions of "Winter Wonderland", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", and "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer". However, quietly working around the clock behind the scenes are thousands of elves for all the good little boys and girls.
These elves don't live at the North Pole. They have never met Santa Claus. Heck, they don't even make their own toys! Their uniforms are blue. Ironically, their foundation does anything but make people feel blue. They serve millions of families around the world. Their gift, toys.
Toys For Tots Mission
Simply put, the mission of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation is to give gifts to children in communities where the program is being run and presents are needed.
The mission statement on the website is:
"The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted."
Founded in 1947, by Major William L. Hendricks, Toys for Tots is a program run by the Untied States Marine Corps that distributes toys to children with parents unable to buy them gifts. It all started with a Raggedy Ann doll.
Originally starting out in Los Angeles, California, the wife of Major Hendricks, Diane, tried giving a Raggedy Ann doll to a child in need, but could find no such organization to accomplish her goal. Upon her suggestion, the Major gathered a group of local Marine reservists to coordinate and collect toys for local children. The Marines collected 5,000 toys from bins placed in front of Warner Brothers movie theaters. The following year, the Marine Corps launched the program on a national level.
In 1948, Walt Disney Studios got on board and created the now famous red toy train logo as well as the first national Toys for Tots poster. Over the years the poster has featured characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Dennis the Menace, Bugs Bunny, and the Road Runner.
Toys for Tots went international in 1959. Typically regarded as a program for children in the United States of America, the organization has collected toys on three separate occasions for Nagoya, Japan (1959), the Republic of Panama (1988), and the Caribbean (1989).
In 1962, the New York Yankees sponsored the first major sporting event to benefit Toys for Tots.
Starting in 1980, the Toys for Tots program only accepted new gifts as legal concerns and the message of giving hand-me-downs arose.
In 1990, the game show "Wheel of Fortune" and Pizza Hut conducted a 3 week promotional event for Toys for Tots. They were the first national television network promotions. The following year, the Secretary of Defense authorized the Marine Corps to recognize and work with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
Colonel William L. Hendricks (the founder) passed away on March 29, 1992, at the age of 87. LtGen Matthew T. Cooper became the President and CEO of the Foundation in 1993.
The foundation didn't become part of the official Marine Corps Reserve mission or an activity of the Corps until 1995.
In 1996, Toys for Tots expanded to cover all 50 states as the Marine Corps and selected local community organizations were assigned tasks in collecting and distributing campaigns around their communities.
A 50th anniversary celebration was held at the John Phillips Sousa Band Hall at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C, in 1997. After the reception, the Marine Corps dedicated their traditional Friday evening parade to Toys for Tots.
During the first week of December in 2001, Toys for Tots held special events for children that had lost parents in the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
In 2008, LtGen Cooper stepped aside as President and CEO. The Board of Directors elected LtGen H. P. Osman as his successor. The newly constructed Toys for Tots Foundation headquarters outside of MCB Quantico, was opened the same year and named the Cooper Center in March of 2009.
In 2011, for the 11th consecutive year, the Foundation appeared in the Philanthropy 400 and distributed nearly 16 million toys to more than 7 million children.
Have you ever donated to Toys for Tots?
How To Get Involved
The next time you visit your local Walmart, grocery store, etc., look for a donation box (typically white or red) that has "Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots" written on it. However, going to the Toys for Tots website is a great way to see other ways you can get involved with this Foundation. Here are a few ways, as outlined by the website, to get involved if you don't have a place to donate in your community.
- Donate- If you can't make it to one of the collection centers or just want to donate some money to the Foundation, the website offers a secure place to donate with your credit card.
- Donate Toy- The donate a toy tab on the website allows you to search by state and then by city. It gives you information on people to contact in order to find a location to donate and the Marines in charge of that particular community.
- Request Toy- You can also donate a toy to your child by clicking on the link to the left or by going to the website at the bottom of this article.
- Volunteer- There is even a place to volunteer and donate your time to the cause in your community.
- Facebook- Toys for Tots even has a facebook page. "Like" it and show your support for the Foundation. The facebook page also has events, organizations, and business's where you can drop-off toys and that promote or support their cause.
The Toys for Tots program was instituted to serve local communities in need. From an organization that is mostly viewed as "barbaric" and "war oriented", it is an extremely generous gesture from the heart.
Be a part of that hope and Christmas morning miracle in a child's life. If you have a personal grievance against the Marine Corps, that is fine. Just take some action in your own life to give to others and show them you do care.
Maybe there is a neighbor who has been struggling through the rough economic times. Perhaps, you have a friend that could use some assistance with gifts. Do something in the spirit of the holiday to give hope to someone else. Even if it is a couple of dollars, a meal, an invite to the family gathering, that small gesture could make or break someone's holiday.
The Christmas season is about sharing. The Toys for Tots Foundation isn't just about giving to the Marine Corps, it is about showing someone YOU care.
© hockey8mn, 2012. All Rights Reserved.
The History of Toys for Tots
All of this information, as well as additional information, from this article can be found on the official Toys for Tots website.