Toys for Tots: A history steeped in service

Toys for Tots: A history steeped in service

(NewsUSA)- If the holidays overwhelm you, think about how that jolly old soul with the red suit and white beard must feel. Even with many years under his ample belt, dear old Santa has been "calling in the reserves" for nearly 60 years.
In 1947, Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea came from Bill's wife, Diane.
Earlier that year, Diane handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver it to an organization that would give it to a needy child at Christmas. When Bill determined that no agency existed, Diane told him that he should start one, so he did.
The pilot project was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it into a nationwide campaign. That same year, Walt Disney designed the renowned red train Toy for Tots logo as a favor to the organization.
In the late 1980s, the Marine Corps determined that a nonprofit charity was needed as an integral part of the overall national Toys for Tots program. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation became an operational organization in September 1991 and has been the fundraising and support organization for the program ever since.
Today, thousands of volunteers and corporate sponsors across the country continue the legacy that began when Diane Hendricks handed her husband a handmade toy and asked him to deliver it to a worthy child. The goal is to deliver a message of hope and brighten the holidays for children whose lives are touched by poverty.
Currently 12 million (17 percent) of the nation's children live below the federal poverty level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since its inception, Toys for Tots has touched the lives of more than 160 million children.
To learn more about the Toys for Tots history and how you can help children in your area, visit www.toysfortots.org, or make a donation at participating UPS stores and mailbox locations.