Toys for Tots Program – Marine Corps Reserve’s

Toys for Tots Program – Marine Corps Reserve’s – Brief Article

The 54th annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign kicked-off on 1 October 2001. U.S. Marines throughout the United States are conducting local Toys for Tots campaigns from October through December.

U.S. Marines once again are striving to bring the joy of Christmas and a message of hope to our nation’s neediest children by giving a new toy.

Toys for Tots began in 1947, when Maj William L. (Bill) Hendricks, USMCR, and a handful of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children on Christmas Eve. The idea came from Bill’s wife. During the fall of 1947, Diane Hendricks handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver the doll to an organization that would give it to a needy child at Christmas. When Bill determined that no organization existed, Diane told him he should start one. He did. As a result, Toys for Tots was born.

The 1947 “mini-Toys for Tots” campaign in Los Angeles was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted the concept and, in 1948, expanded it into a nationwide campaign. That year, Marine Corps Reserve units across the nation conducted Toys for Tots campaigns in each community in which a Reserve unit was located. Marines have conducted successful nationwide campaigns at Christmas each year since 1948. The original goal of “bringing the joy of Christmas to America’s needy children,” has been expanded to encompass social and humanitarian objectives–delivering a message of hope, rebuilding self-esteem and mentoring children living in poverty by exposing them to the positive examples set by the U.S. Marines who distribute toys to them each Christmas.

A Marine Reservist on weekends, Bill Hendricks was the public relations director for Warner Brothers Studios. From this position, he was able to arrange considerable visibility and to gain important celebrity support for Toys for Tots over the ensuing years.

In 1948, Walt Disney designed the Toys for Tots logo that is still used today. Disney also designed the first Toys for Tots poster used to promote the nationwide program. Nat “King” Cole, Peggy Lee and Vic Damone recorded the Toys for Tots song, which was written by Sammy Fain and Paul Webster in 1956. Bob Hope, John Wayne, Doris Day, Lorrie Morgan, Tim Allen and Kenny Rogers are but a few of the long list of celebrities who have given their time and talent to promote Toys for Tots. First Lady Barbara Bush served as the national spokesperson in 1992 and in her autobiography named Toys for Tots as one of her favorite charities.

From 1947 until 1979, Marines collected and distributed new and used toys. On Reserve drill weekends during October, November and December, Reserve Marines refurbished the used toys. Since Christmas 1980, Marines have distributed only new toys. In the late 1980s, the Marine Corps determined that a private charitable organization was needed as an integral part of the overall national Toys for Tots program. Based on this need, the secretary of Defense, in August 1991, authorized the Marine Corps to recognize and work with a charity committed to supporting Toys for Tots. Based on this approval, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation became an operational organization in September 1991 and has been the fundraising and support organization for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program since that date.

In 1995, the secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U.S. Marine Corps and as an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve

In 1996, the commander, Marine Forces Reserve expanded Toys for Tots to cover all 50 states by authorizing selected Marine Corps League Detachments and selected local civilian organizations (generally groups of veteran Marines) to conduct toy collection and distribution campaigns in communities without a Marine Reserve unit. Such programs were conducted as part of the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program and in full compliance with established Marine Corps guidelines.

The 2000 Toys for Tots Campaign was the most successful in the 53-year history of Toys for Tots. Local campaigns were conducted in 350 communities covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. This year special events were held in New York City and Alexandria, Va., dedicated to the children of the victims of the 11 September tragedy. On 3 December, a luncheon was held at the Alexandria Hilton Mark Center and on 5 December there was a special evening event in New York City at the famous FAO Schwarz Toy Store.

The signature symbols of Toys for Tots are: a U.S. Marine in a Dress Blue uniform, a Raggedy Ann doll and the three-car train Toys for Tots logo designed by Walt Disney in 1948.

The goal for the 2001 Campaign is to reach more needy children than ever before. Everyone can help Marines achieve this goal. Simply drop off a new unwrapped toy at a Toys for Tots collection box nearest you and Marines will do the rest.

To find the Marine Corps Reserve Unit nearest you, visit the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation Web site ( The Web site contains the addresses and phone numbers of the Toys for Tots Coordinators in 381 communities across the nation. The phone number of your local U.S. Marine Corps Reserve unit can also be found in your local phone directory under “United States Government.”

If you wish to make a cash donation to the national campaign, contact the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation through their Web site or by calling (703) 640-9433. The Foundation, an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity, is the fundraising and support organization for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Reserve Officers Association of the United States

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group