The Toys for Tots program began in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks was tasked by his wife with the job of delivering a handmade doll to a deserving child. When he couldn’t find a charitable organization to facilitate the transfer of the doll, he started his own. Since that time, Toys for Tots has been delivering toys to children who would otherwise not have such a joyous holiday celebration.
Toys for Tots is officially partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. In the early years of the program, old and new toys were accepted. Reservists would spend their weekends refurbishing used toys to make them acceptable as gifts for well-deserving children. In 1980, the organization began only accepting new toys to be passed along to the children citing the need to avoid these kids receiving “hand-me-downs” as well as avoiding any possible safety and sanitation issues from used goods. Due to increasing obligations, the Reservists also found their drill time to be more limited for these charitable activities.
The organization has continued to grow and the most recent numbers published on their site show that more than 16 million toys were delivered in 2008. In addition to partnerships with businesses through the Toys for Tots Foundation, Marines set up throughout the United States to accept donations of new toys.
The organization is also known for paying special attention to the children of hard hit areas due to natural disasters or other tragedies in the previous year. For example, they were there delivering toys to the victims of Hurricane Andrew and to the children who lost a parent in the attacks of September 11th.
To find a location closest to you to donate a toy, please visit the Toys for Tots website at http://www.toysfortots.org/. Toys for Tots depends on the generous donations of others to keep its program alive and to continue to be able to reach its goal to deliver toys to those less fortunate. The website also details the steps that need to be taken to become a recipient of the program. It is their goal to ensure that all children can enjoy the holiday season with at least one new toy.