It’s hard to believe the holiday season is upon us. While it is a time of joy and celebration with family and friends, for many it is a difficult time of year. That is why every holiday season I give back to those less fortunate.
One way I do this is by donating to Toys for Tots. It is a wonderful organization that delivers millions of toys to children across the state and country each year. In fact, according to the Toys for Tots website, 548 million toys have been distributed through Toys for Tots since the program first started.
Toys for Tots traces back all the way to 1947. That year, the wife of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks asked him to bring some toys that she had made to an agency that supports children in need. Being the good husband that he was, he tried, but couldn’t find such an agency. So his wife told him to start one.
Major Hendricks recruited members from his Marine unit in Los Angeles, and together they collected and distributed over 5,000 toys that year.
It seems they were onto something because a year later, in 1948, Toys for Tots became a national community action program.
Bill Hendricks was not only a Marine, but also he was the Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Studios. As such, he knew many celebrities and asked them to support this new program, and they did. What’s more, Bill’s personal friend, Walt Disney, offered to design the first Toys for Tots poster, which included a miniature three-car train. That train then became the Toys for Tots logo.
Fast-forward to 1991 when the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization at the behest of the Marine Corps, which helps run and support the Marine Toys for Tots program. Each year, about 18 million toys are distributed to seven million less fortunate children.
I love the Toys for Tots program for many reasons, including its mission of spreading joy. But, I also love it because there are many ways to support the organization.
The most well known way is to donate unwrapped new toys, which you can simply drop off at any number of locations. And, if you want to become a drop-off site or host your own toy drive, you can do so. In fact, my weekly networking group is hosting our own Toys for Tots toy drive, and we are looking forward to collecting as many toys as possible.
If you are not sure what kind of toy to buy, you also can make a monetary donation via a secure online form, or if you’d rather, you can send a donation through the U.S. Postal Service. Both options are easy to do, and you can be sure that your money is going directly toward helping kids. As a top-rated charity, 97% of your donation will go toward purchasing toys and books to less fortunate kids. The remaining 3% is spent on fundraising costs.
Regardless of how you give, there is still time to do so. You can drop off toys at any drop-off location through December 19, and you can donate online all year round.
If you do decide to give a toy, please keep older kids in mind as tweens and teenagers are often overlooked age groups. Books, board games and art supplies are great options for kids of this age.
Two other organizations I support are Operation Christmas Child, which delivers gift-filled shoeboxes to children around the world, and Angel Tree, which provides gifts to children whose parents are in prison.
I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all the best in 2019!