Once upon a time, there was a hero… not just any hero, but a special kind of hero. He was a man who gave hope to millions of families struggling during the holidays for nearly 50 years of his life. It all began with a simple journey to help children at Christmastime and it exploded into a program impacting over 7.1 million children to date. You’ll know this program as Toys for Tots.
Toys for Tots History
This story of hope, love and joy begins in 1947 when a then Marine Reservist, Major Bill Hendricks was asked by his wife Diane to locate an organization which helped children and families in need during the holidays to donate her homemade dolls.
Try as he might, Bill learned that no such organization existed. Bill and several of his Marine Reservist buddies made it their mission to create one. Their efforts brought over 5,000 toys to children on Christmas Eve 1947 to the Los Angeles area. Many of the children in the community may not have had a Christmas without the generosity from those who donated to the Toys for Tots program.
Upon hearing of Bill’s cause, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Cates, encouraged other Reserve Units to participate with the program in their communities. The following year’s efforts expanded to approximately 76 cities across the nation.
How Toys for Tots Helps
Today Toys for Tots hosts campaigns in 760 locations across the country. What started out as a small toy drive now impacts millions of lives from Los Angeles to New York. But here’s the thing. This toy drive isn’t about the military. It’s about the community, YOUR community. It’s estimated that approximately 14.7 million children (one in five) are living in poverty today.
Marines participating in the Toys for Tots program know that they’re making a difference in their community. They also know that despite their best efforts, they may see a child go without this season.
If you’ve ever known a Marine, you’re probably familiar with their “Mission Complete” expectations. You also know how soft their purportedly hard hearts can be. You best believe, when a Marine knows there are children doing without on their watch this Christmas, they’ll take it personally.
But this battle won’t be won without the continued support of the community, so please, make a difference and donate today. Show the kids in your community that they matter and tell others how easy it is to make a difference to so many.
Toys for Tots Fun Facts
Need more awesomeness on Toys for Tots? Here are some facts that will not only make your day, but also make you smile.
Fact 1: Bill Hendricks was friends with the ever-amazing Walt Disney. When he began Toys for Tots, he called Walt and asked him to design the first Toys for Tots poster. He did just that and also designed the famous train logo as well.
Fact 2: When Toys for Tots distributes toys to families in need, much like every other Marine tradition, they don’t want recognition for their efforts. Marines aim to showcase the parents as the hero either as Santa or as gifts from the parent to the child.
Fact 3: When you donate money to the Toys for Tots program, 97% of the funds go directly to the kids. The other 3% is utilized for yearly fundraising and toy-raising. No monies collected are ever used for salaries or personal use in the organization.
Fact 4: Families who benefit from the Toys for Tots Program are selected by representatives in the local community. Toys for Tots works closely with various child welfare organizations who in turn provide information on families or programs who would benefit from receiving gifts.
Fact 5: The outcome of the Toys for Tots program in your area rests solely on the generosity of your community. Your donations stay in your area.
What it all boils down to is you. This program allows you to make a difference in your community each season and that’s why Toys for Tots is so amazing.