Let's Make Christmas Wishes Come True with Toys for Tots
What do the year 1947, the actor John Wayne, the number 16.8 million have in common?
Answer: Toys for Tots the annual toy drive sponsored by the U.S. Marines!
- Toys for Tots was founded in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, in Los Angeles, California. That first year, the campaign collected 5,000 toys before Christmas 1947. The first toy donated was a handmade doll.
- John Wayne, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, George Strait, Brooke Shields, Charlton Hesston, Sammy Davis, Jr., Doris Day, Andy Griffith, Charlie Daniels, Clint Eastwood, Johnny Carson, Kenny Rogers, John Glenn, First Ladies, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, have all served as National Toys for Tots Spokespersons.
- Toys for Tots has distributed nearly 16.8 million toys to more than 7 million children by 2012.
What I personally love about Toys for Tots (aside from clean cut young men and women in uniform) is how easy it is to donate and make a difference. As I was doing normal shopping at NFM (on my day off) I grabbed a gift that I would not normally have purchased. All my kid-gift-shopping around the holidays goes to kids from ages 16-21, which is great, but not as fun as little kid’s toys. But I spotted a great Barbie Princess magnetic paper doll gift set and said, “Man, that is sweet.” And because the huge toy box was in the front of the store, I knew I could get the gift and have a legitimate person to give it to.
The toys drives are organized by volunteer coordinators, who work closely with local social welfare agencies, church groups, and other local community agencies to distribute the toys to the less fortunate children of the community. After donating, I walked away feeling good about my gift, the little girl that would receive it, and ever more thankful for the men and women in uniform who serve our country every day, in both peace and war time.
As I was doing a little research, I found a reason to be even more impressed. In addition to the toy drive, the US Marines also sponsor The Toys For Tots Literacy Program. The Marines also recognize the value of literacy and learning and encourage people to donate books. The goal of this portion of the annual campaign is to “provide children the ability to compete academically and to succeed in life by providing them access to resources that will enhance their ability to read and to communicate effectively.” You can bet I will grab a few more kid’s books and add them to the toy chest!
As I close this post, I can’t help but hearing the words of a young 8 year old girl as she asks her local newspaper if there is really a Santa Claus. We all know the famous reply “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.” But how many of you knew that Santa had U.S. Marines for elves?
If you’d like to donate to Toys for Tots, you can drop off a present the donation bins located within each of our stores until December 15th!
Merry Christmas to each of you!