News: Bringing holiday cheer to children since 1947
Story by Pfc. Garrett White
BARSTOW, Calif. - In early 1947, Diane Hendricks handmade a Raggedy Ann doll and gave it to her husband, Marine Major William Hendricks, to donate to a children’s Christmas toy drive.
However, Hendricks ran into a problem … such a charity had yet to exist.
That same year, Hendricks founded Toys for Tots in Los Angeles, and with the help of local Marine reservists, collected more than 5,000 toys during a campaign before Christmas. The following year, the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots and turned it into a nationwide community action project, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.
Over its 66 year lifespan, the Toys for Tots program has collected and distributed more than 469 million toys to more than 216 million children across the country, according to www.toysfortots.com.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., is one of the many supporters of the Toys for Tots Program, said Staff Sgt. Jeffery Worley, Toys for Tots coordinator here.
“It’s very important for little girls and boys to have a happy Christmas,” said Worley. “Not every kid is fortunate enough to receive gifts on Christmas. That’s what we are here for.”
Traditionally, Toys for Tots campaigns are ran by Marine Corps reserve units, said Worley. However, since the Barstow area doesn’t have a nearby reserve unit, active duty Marines from MCLB Barstow support the campaign.
Areas covered by MCLB Barstow include Barstow, Daggett, Newberry Springs, National Training Center Fort Irwin and Baker, said Mal Wessel, a local Toys for Tots coordinator.
Wessel feels the Marines performance and dedication to Toys for Tots is exemplary.
“One doesn’t happen without the other,” Wessel said about the Marines involvement with Toys for Tots. “The Marines are what make Toys for Tots (successful).”
While the Marine Corps may be the tip of the Toys for Tots spear, the program wouldn’t be as successful as it is without the support of local businesses and individuals, said Worley.
Local businesses play a key role in the success of Toys for Tots, explained Worley. Businesses can generate or purchase media attention for the program, sponsor a toy raising event, provide an essential service like printing flyers or providing transportation for volunteers, or simply allow their place of business as a toy drop-off location.
Individuals wanting to support Toys for Tots can help by donating a new, unwrapped toy at a local toy collection bin, assisting with toy collections, sorting or distributing toys, said Worley.
When it comes down to it, it’s all about helping those who are less fortunate, concluded Worley.
For more information on the Toys for Tots program, such as donation locations and options, how to volunteer, or how to request toys for children, go to www.toysfortots.org.