For those of us who celebrate Christmas and the magic of the Holidays–know it to be filled with family, food, festivities, gift giving and the wide eyed wonderment of children. Yet for certain families the holidays bring an added burden of expense and financial hardship, especially when having to provide toys and gifts for their little ones. Many church’s and community organizations take part in supporting those less fortunate and have partnered with major toy and department stores.
Each year the U.S.–Marines throughout the United States conduct local Toys for Tots campaigns from October through December. For 70 years, these Marines have worked tirelessly to bring the joy of Christmas to America’s neediest children in all 50 states.
“All the stars in the skies cannot compare to the wonderment in a child’s eyes”
The program started in 1947, just 2 years after the end of World War II, and was the vision of Marine Corps Reserve Maj Bill Hendricks. It began with a “Raggedy Ann” doll handcrafted by Hendricks’ wife, Diane. This childless couple loved children and wanted to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Diane asked Bill to find a charitable organization that would deliver the doll to a needy child at Christmas. Bill searched the Los Angeles area but was unable to locate any agency with the mission of providing toys to needy children. His search convinced him that there were thousands of children in Los Angeles who would not know the joy of Christmas. At the urging of his wife and with the support of his CO, Maj Hendricks and a handful of Marine Corps Reservists collected 5,000 toys that they distributed to needy children on Christmas day. In so doing, they launched the Toys for Tots Program. Major Bill Hendricks was the Public Relations Director for Warner Brothers Studios and a Marine Reservist on the weekends. He was able to bring visibility and gain celebrity support for Toys for Tots.
The 1947 campaign was so successful that the Marine Corps expanded it into a nationwide program in 1948. Each year, every Marine Corps Reserve site throughout America has conducted a Christmas toy collection and distribution campaign in the community surrounding their Reserve Center. In 1991, this program was enhanced with the introduction of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation as the fundraising and support organization for Toys for Tots. The initial collection of 5,000 toys 70 years ago has grown, as of December 2016, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributed over 530 million toys to over 244 million less fortunate children.
The gift of generosity comes from the heart and is received at a deep soul level especially by little ones at this magical time of year!
“The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is governed by a board of directors, all of whom are successful business leaders from throughout the nation. All directors served as U. S. Marines. The Foundation’s professional staff is headquartered in the Cooper Center, which is located just outside the main gate of Marine Corps Base, Quantico, about 35 miles south of Washington, DC.
Toys for Tots Literacy Program has partnered with UPS Store, whose mission is to support our nations disadvantaged children the ability to succeed by competing academically, and communicating effectively. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, over 16 million children live in poverty. The gift of a book can provide these children with the tools necessary to assisting them in breaking the poverty cycle. Donations to the Toys for Tots Literacy Program helps place a book into the hands of a less fortunate child. Thanks to your support, millions of books will be distributed to children and schools across our country.
Toys for Tots main objective is to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas, by playing an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources “our children” and by uniting all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign while hoping to create better communities in the future.
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