DECEMBER 15, 2021 – Every year, thousands of Marines, their families and local communities work together to spread holiday cheer to children in need through the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program. The organization was founded in 1947 when Marine Corps Reserve Major (Maj) Bill Hendricks was asked by his wife to deliver handcrafted dolls that she made to an agency that helped children in need.
When they could not find any organization, they decided to create one. Within the first year they donated 5,000 toys to children in need all over Los Angeles, Calif., where Maj Hendricks’ Marine Corps Reserve unit was located.
The next year in 1948, the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Clifton B. Gates, directed all Marine Reserve sites to implement a Toys for Tots campaign, transforming the local initiative into a national communication action program. At the time, Maj Hendricks worked as the Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers where he became friends with Walt Disney.
Mr. Disney designed the first Toys for Tots poster that included a miniature three-car train that was adopted as the Toys for Tots logo. Every year since then, posters have become a recognized part of the program.
For over 70 years, every Marine Corps Reserve unit in the Marine Corps leads an annual Toys for Tots donation drive for their local communities, although any person or company can host a donation drive.
Since its creation, the foundation has distributed 604 million toys to 272 million children in need. Of those contributions, the Marine Corps and its surrounding communities have distributed 572,259 toys and supported 352,858 children.
Some of the installation campaigns across the regions are Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Blaz, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, MCB Hawaii and MCB Quantico.
The Toys for Tots Program has had a lasting legacy on the nation and has garnered support from numerous professional sports teams, businesses and celebrities, including First Lady Nancy Reagan, who was the national Toys for Tots spokesperson in 1983.
Today, Toys for Tots is governed by a board of directors, all of whom are veteran Marines and business owners throughout the country. The foundation was founded in 1991 as a not-for-profit and is headquartered outside of MCB Quantico main gate in Triangle, Va. To learn more about your local Toys for Tots Program, visit www.ToysforToys.org.
By Courtesy Story | Marine Corps Installations Command, MCICOM