October 13, 2014 – What can a $15 new, unwrapped toy mean to a less fortunate child?
“Christmas,” Gunnery Sgt. Johnny Ruby, coordinator, Toys for Tots, said.
“Every child should have a Christmas,” he emphasized.
The 2014 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program kicked off its annual campaign to collect new, unwrapped toys for the local community’s less fortunate children during a press conference held aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Oct. 1.
The Toys for Tots program is the largest outreach program in the Department of Defense.
“This is always an exciting time of the year for us,” Ruby said. “The community really gets involved with us and it’s an awesome feeling to see the smiles on the children’s faces.”
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, according to http://toysfortots.org/about_toys_for_tots/toys_for_tots_program/default.aspx.
Ruby said more than 3,500 toys were collected during the 2013 campaign and the goal for 2014 is to match it.
“It’s an amazing feeling knowing you had a part in a child having a smile on his or her face Christmas morning after opening a gift from Santa Claus,” he added.
Those wishing to contribute can donate a toy valued at $15 or less in a Toys for Tots bin now through Dec. 1.
Collections sites are located around the base and throughout Albany and its surrounding areas.
Participants can find bins located on the installation at buildings 3500 and 3700, Marine Corps Exchange, Navy Federal Credit Union, and Youth and Teen Center.
Off base, Marines in dress blues will accept new, unwrapped toys as well as cash donations at various collection points including the Albany Mall, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Albany Area YMCA.
There is no cost for businesses to obtain collection bins.
Local families can sign up at the Albany Salvation Army, 304 West Second Avenue, Albany, Georgia, through the side door, Oct. 27-30, and Nov. 3-6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For additional information, call 229-435-1428.
Families desiring to participate in the program are expected to meet certain criteria.
Below are several documents families will need to bring with them when they sign up for Toys for Tots, including:
* State-issued picture identification;
* Birth certificates for all children applied for;
* A current food stamp summary in the guardian’s name;
* Current rent receipt and utility bill, both in the guardian’s name;
* Verification of all household income;
* Social Security and Medicare cards for everyone in the household.
This initiative began in 1947 when then-Maj. Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine reservists in Los Angeles, California, collected and distributed 5,000 toys to less fortunate children, an effort that resulted in a nationwide campaign a year later, according to the website, www.toysfortots.org.
Since its inception, the Toys for Tots national campaign distributed 476 million toys to 223 million less fortunate children, according to the 2013 Annual Report.
In 2013, Marine reservists and volunteers distributed more than 16.8 million toys to more than 7 million less fortunate children, according to the report.