The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

Delivering Hope

In 1946 Diane Hendricks, the wife of a Marine reservist, William Hendricks, made a simple Raggedy Ann doll and asked her husband to find an organization that collected toys for children at Christmas. When her husband returned and said no organization existed, she encouraged him to start one himself. According to Wikipedia, "at her suggestion he gathered a group of local Marine reservists, including Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton, and together they coordinated and collected some 5,000 toys for local children that year from collection bins placed outside of Warner Brothers movie theaters. Their efforts were so successful that, in 1948, Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign." The relationship with Warner Brothers gave the effort access to celebrities and Walt Disney designed the logo that is still used today.

Toys for Tots became an instant hit and local Marine reserve units started local collections. Until the late 70s the reservists would actually refurbish old toys but in 1980 the organization began asking for new, unwrapped toys.

Read more about the history of Toys for Tots on a Marine Corps Foundation and Association blog.

Photo from Times Picayune, 2010.

In 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U. S. Marine Corps and an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve. Today the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is the fundraising and support organization for Toys for Tots. On Toys for Tots website one can make a monetary donation, request toys for a child, or find the closest drop off spots for toys in your community. According to the website, "the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity is the fund raising, funding and support organization for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation was created at the behest of the U. S. Marine Corps and provides support in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, who directs the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation has supported Toys for Tots since 1991.

"The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted."

Many corporations are associated with Toys for Tots and can be seen on their website. The largest corporate sponsor is Toys for Us who once again in 2013 is having "legend, actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Shaquille O'Neal donning his holiday alter ego - Shaq-A-Claus - to encourage customer donations and help make even more wishes come true for kids in need." You have never seen Shaq until you watch Shaq-A-Claus on YouTube. The most recent video, a behind the scenes commercial shoot for Toys R Us, is just one example of his commitment.

There are several videos on YouTube about the Marines Toys for Tots program. One of the best depicts the history of the Marine Toys for Tots, while another shows a heartwarming story of a young boy asking a Marine if he is Santa.

And Many More!

Happy Birthday U.S. Marine Corps - 238 years strong on November 10th!

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