What can a $15 new, unwrapped toy mean to a less fortunate child? It means a child gets to receive the gift of laughter and play -- and that’s exactly what the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program aims to do.
For 75 years, the service has been literally making children's wishes come true every Christmas. Also, in recent years the organization has been expanding its reach to help children affected by natural disasters as well as helping refugees adapt to life in the U.S.A.
“Can you imagine the devastation a child would feel waking up only to find no presents under the tree?” asks Col USMC (Ret) Ted Silvester, Vice President of Marketing & Development for the Toys for Tots Foundation. “For most of these children, the gifts we provide are the only ones they will get this holiday season.”
In times of economic uncertainty, parents take care of what’s most important first – a place to live, food, and warmth. Now, in its 75th year, the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program also provides year-round support to families experiencing challenges and exceptional circumstance, however its main focus is providing holiday cheer to less fortunate children.
“For over 26 years, I had the opportunity to participate in local Toys for Tots campaigns in various locations,” said Silvester. “I saw firsthand how Toys for Tots can positively impact a family who is a little down on their luck.”
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, and patriotic citizens.
Last year, Marines and volunteers distributed 22.3 million toys, books and games to 8.8 million less fortunate children.
The program also provided toys, books, and other gifts to nearly 17,000 children on the Afghanistan refugee families who have been granted asylum in the United States. As these families adjusted to their new lives in America, Toys for Tots provided hope and comfort to their children.
Silvester says that “gifts offer children recognition and a positive memory they will cherish for a lifetime” and that many of the gifts “such as books, games and sports equipment, make a significant contribution to the educational, social and physical development of these children.”
Toys for Tots 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.
Since its inception, local Toys for Tots coordinators have distributed 627 million toys to 281 million less fortunate American children.
Help Marines make a difference in the lives of children--visit https://www.toysfortots.org/.
Want to Know More About the Marine Corps?
Be sure to get the latest news about the Marine Corps, as well as critical info about how to join and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to Military.com and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.