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Marine Corps Toys For Tots

Updated on December 10, 2012
PESCOPAGANO DI MONDRAGONE, Italy (Dec. 16, 2009) Staff Sgt. Denis Licona, left, assigned to Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, and Gunnery Sgt. Jarod Duke, assigned to Commander, Strike Force NATO staff, help open a gift for a
PESCOPAGANO DI MONDRAGONE, Italy (Dec. 16, 2009) Staff Sgt. Denis Licona, left, assigned to Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, and Gunnery Sgt. Jarod Duke, assigned to Commander, Strike Force NATO staff, help open a gift for a | Source

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.

(The video below was uploaded to youtube by MarineToysForTots.)

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."

The Toys for Tots Holiday Concert poster was created by Cpl. Elegancegiavoni Bratton and Sgt Jesse Alwin of the MarForPac Combat Camera graphics section.
The Toys for Tots Holiday Concert poster was created by Cpl. Elegancegiavoni Bratton and Sgt Jesse Alwin of the MarForPac Combat Camera graphics section. | Source

Brief History

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.

Baton Rouge, LA, 12-10-05 -- Hurricane Katrina FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Wells turns over donated toys to Marine Corps Sgt. Geberth. The Baton Rouge JFO Toys for Tots drive netted donations that filled 2-26 foot Penske box trucks which
Baton Rouge, LA, 12-10-05 -- Hurricane Katrina FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Scott Wells turns over donated toys to Marine Corps Sgt. Geberth. The Baton Rouge JFO Toys for Tots drive netted donations that filled 2-26 foot Penske box trucks which | Source

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?

See results

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.

Get Involved

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 video below was uploaded to youtube by MarineToysForTots.)

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.


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    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      One final thought. Toys are not an "investment" in children. Education and parent and adult involvement in their lives providing intellectual, social and moral support and guidance is an investment in children. The toys a child has should not define the child. Children need good role models like their parents, teachers and the Marines. Children need to learn to develop, use, and expand their imaginations. A cardboard box, a pot and spoon, etc. can do that. Few children need more toys.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      There is no problem with Toys for Tots. "too few toys for too few times"??? I don't think Pat understands the purpose of Toys for Tots. It is to provide toys for poor children at Christmas time. It is not designed to provide a flood of unlimited toys to every daycare all the time, year round. The Marines have to raise donations (time, toys, and money) to do the good that they do. Maybe Pat would like to start that charity and raise money for his suggested cause.

      I didn't realize that parents that rely on daycare depend on the daycare not only for child care but also for free unlimited toys. I also don't see how a lack of a flood of toys to daycares could turn 3 year olds into a generation of thieves in the future. But, I could see how an unlimited supply of free toys to children could lead to a sense of entitlement in adulthood.

      I fail to see Pat's logic in flooding daycares with toys so that children don't have to fight over the same toy. Having raised 4 boys (essentially a small daycare in itself) with a reasonable number of toys, I found that even if options for other toys existed, a young (daycare age child less than 5) will often want what another child has (Does Pat suggest that the flood of toys include enough so that each child can have one of every toy? One of every toy in their daycare or one of every toy made? Currently made or ever made?). Not having every toy helps children understand that they can't have everything they want and that there can be social value in sharing. I don't think it makes them thieves (and adult supervision should help re-enforce that). Contrary to Pat, I would suggest that logic dictates that giving young children everything that they want will plant the seeds of dependence, entitlement, and social isolation with an inability to play (work) well in a world that requires give and take interactions on a regular basis.

    • profile image

      Pat 4 years ago

      The only problem with this organization is that it serves too few toys for too few times.

      An idea which may work is to flood daycares, orphan homes, and the poor so that children can preserve their natural innocence and honorable instincts so they do not acquire the acquisitive personality instincts which create thieves that remains with them into adulthood.

      Daycare parents can't afford toys for kids, and rely upon daycare to provide access. Logic suggests that flooding daycare so that kids don't have to fight to play with one will invest in honor by investing in kids.

    • hockey8mn profile image

      hockey8mn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for reading and commenting kashmir56. It is important for people to not only see this side of the Marine Corps, but get involved with something similar.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very awesome hub and toys for tots is a what the spirit of Christmas is all about. Enjoyed the history of the toys for tots program, some of it i did not know before.

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • hockey8mn profile image

      hockey8mn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Denise. It is always great to see the collection bins filled.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful hub reporting the history of this charity. Great videos, also. I always look for the Toys for Tots collection sites. Thanks for sharing this.

    • profile image

      Loonlady162 5 years ago

      Great hub. Toys for Tots is a testament to the true meaning of the Spirit of Christmas. Happy children grow into a mentally healthy and happy people.

    • hockey8mn profile image

      hockey8mn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      It most definitely meets the spirit of Christmas.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great Hub and even better charity, organization and mission. Toys for Tots meets the Spirit of Christmas. Semper Fi.

      Voted up, across and shared.


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