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.
“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. Toys are usually at the bottom of the list. In 2016, Toys for Tots spent an additional $10 million to bridge the gap between donations and demand. The need for donations is greater than ever for 2017.
“For over 25 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 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children. Local campaigns were conducted in 792 communities covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. The Foundation supplemented local toy collections with over 5.3 million toys valued at $65.5 million.
Now in its 70th year, 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 530 million toys to 244 million less fortunate American children.
Help Marines make a difference in the lives of children--visit https://www.toysfortots.org/.
— Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown.