Marine Toys for Tots, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s premiere Community Action Program, announces its 75th Anniversary of supporting children in need across the Nation and the kick-off of the Program’s 2022 holiday campaign.
The idea of the Marine Toys for Tots Program began in 1947 at the helm of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. Major Hendricks’ wife, Diane, was the inspiration behind the Program after she asked Major Hendricks to deliver some handcrafted dolls to an agency that supported children in need. When Major Hendricks reported back to his wife that he could not find an agency for the handcrafted dolls, Diane encouraged her husband to “start one”!
The Marine Toys for Tots Program began as just one campaign in 1947 with Major Hendricks and the Marines in his Reserve unit collecting over 5,000 toys and delivering them to children in need in the Los Angeles area. The following year, under the direction of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Clifton B. Cates, every Marine Corps Reserve unit implemented a Toys for Tots campaign—which transformed Toys for Tots into a National Community Action Program.
In recent years, Marine Toys for Tots has distributed millions of educational toys, books, games, and sporting equipment to children in need during the spring and summer months. These children and their families were facing adversity and exceptional circumstances including pandemic related challenges, natural disaster recovery, and other extenuating events. “Toys for Tots is more than a Christmas charity—that is why we wanted to DoGoodNOW and continue to expand our partnerships with other non-profit partners,” said Lieutenant General Jim Laster, USMC (Retired), President & CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “With the assistance of various non-profit organizations throughout the country, Toys for Tots has the ability to extend our reach and provide support to families who are facing tremendous year-round challenges.”
The Toys for Tots Literacy Program has also expanded since its inception in 2008 by providing books to non-profits to distribute books to Title I funded schools across the Nation. Over 47 million books have been distributed, and with each and every book provided, the Toys for Tots Literacy Program hopes to break the cycle of poverty. Another Program that has allowed Toys for Tots to reach even more children in need is the Toys for Tots Native American Program. Each year, 180,000+ Native American children living on remote Reservations across the United States receive toys and books leaving a positive impact and assisting in the development of these children.
As our Nation has faced the many challenges and national crises over the past 75 year, the American public has never let Toys for Tots down. Our Marines and volunteers have been able to support millions of children in need year after year. Marine Toys for Tots had a record-breaking year in 2021 and distributed an unprecedented 22.4 million toys to 8.7 million underprivileged children.
Since Marine Toys for Tots Program’s inception in 1947 with a single hand-crafted doll, we have distributed 627 million toys to over 281 million children in need over seven decades. We’ve adapted and overcome many challenges, but always accomplished the mission.
Today’s children are tomorrow’s future, and Marine Toys for Tots is dedicated to ensuring it’s as bright as possible for children living in challenging circumstances. Because of the support we have received over the last seven decades from the American public, our wonderful Corporate Sponsors, and our dedicated local Coordinators and volunteers – we are 75 years strong! Now, in our 75th year, the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program also provides support year-round to families experiencing challenges and exceptional circumstances, thus fulfilling the hopes and dreams of millions of children in need Nationwide at Christmastime – and beyond. Help Marine Toys for Tots fulfill the Christmas Holiday dreams of millions of impoverished children who otherwise may be forgotten, after all – every child deserves a little Christmas.