The Us. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is celebrating its 75th year of delivering hope to children in need across the Nation. U.S. Marines and volunteers will be conducting over 830 local toy collections and distribution campaigns in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands. This year, Toys for Tots will highlight their extraordinary Reserve Marines, past and present, as well as showcase the incredible effort from communities across the Nation that has enabled Toys for Tots to support over 281 million less fortunate children.
The U.S Marines, along with 55,000 volunteers, millions of local supporters, hundreds of corporate partners, and others, have started collecting gifts and will continue to do so until December 25.
Across the Nation, one in six million children are living in poverty. The mission of Marine Toys for Tots is to bring the joy of Christmas to less fortunate children with the goal of delivering a message of hope that will inspire youngsters to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. The objectives include having a positive impact on the development of children, creating or restoring self-esteem, and bringing all elements of communities together in a common cause for three months each year.
Now, in Toys for Tots 75th year, they are asking supporters to make this important milestone another record-breaking year. It is their goal to deliver the magic of the holidays to every family seeking holiday help from Toys for Tots.
As our Nation has faced the many challenges and national crises over the past 75 years, the American public has never let Toys for Tots down. Our Marines and volunteers have been able to support millions of children in need year after year. Marine Toys for Tots had a record-breaking year in 2021 and distributed an unprecedented 22.4 million toys to 8.7 million underprivileged children.
The idea of the Marine Toys for Tots Program began in 1947 at the helm of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. Major Hendricks’ wife, Diane, was the inspiration behind the Program after she asked Major Hendricks to deliver some handcrafted dolls to an agency that supported children in need. When Major Hendricks reported back to his wife that he could not find an agency for the handcrafted dolls, Diane encouraged her husband to “start one”!
The Marine Toys for Tots Program began as just one campaign in 1947 with Major Hendricks and the Marines in his Reserve unit collecting over 5,000 toys and delivering them to children in need in the Los Angeles area. The following year, under the direction of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Clifton B. Cates, every Marine Corps Reserve unit implemented a Toys for Tots campaign—which transformed Toys for Tots into a National Community Action Program.
In recent years, Marine Toys for Tots has distributed millions of educational toys, books, games, and sporting equipment to children in need during the spring and summer months. These children and their families were facing adversity and exceptional circumstances including pandemic related challenges, natural disaster recovery, and other extenuating events.
“Toys for Tots is more than a Christmas charity—that is why we wanted to DoGoodNOW and continue to expand our partnerships with other non-profit partners,” said Lieutenant General Jim Laster, USMC (Retired), President & CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “With the assistance of various non-profit organizations throughout the country, Toys for Tots has the ability to extend our reach and provide support to families who are facing tremendous year-round challenges.”
The Toys for Tots Literacy Program has also expanded since its inception in 2008 by providing books to non-profits to distribute to Title I funded schools across the Nation. Over 47 million books have been distributed, and with each and every book provided, the Toys for Tots Literacy Program hopes to break the cycle of poverty. Another Program that has allowed Toys for Tots to reach even more children in need is the Toys for Tots Native American Program. Each year, 180,000+ Native American children living on remote Reservations across the United States receive toys and books leaving a positive impact and assisting in the development of these children.
If you would like to find a way to donate, to either program, visit https://www.toysfortots.org/donate/Default.aspx for more information. You can donate online, participate in collecting toys, set up a virtual toy box, or get involved with the literacy program. Find a local TFT campaign near you by visiting the website at www.toysfortots.org. Or visit the local chapter page at mclrgv.org/programs/toys-for-tots-3/.
And don’t forget to contact your local chapter to see if your community has any special needs. The Rio Grande Valley Detachment #1456 Marine Corps League’s website is mclrgv.org. Here you will also find information about special events and fundraisers.