Around this time of year we are hearing all kinds of commercials about what to give your friends, family, and children for Christmas and about all of these “wonderful” sales that “X” store has going on, but every now and then you’ll hear someone say “‘Tis the season of giving”. For this post and the next I’m going to offer up some information about two of the Christmas season favorites when it comes to charity: Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.
Today, we’ll cover Toys for Tots. You’ve probably seen the cardboard “Toys for Tots” boxes around some of your favorite businesses and organizations (the library has two!) and watched them slowly will with toys. The basic premise of the ‘charity’ is to collect toys and books which will be distributed as a message of hope to less fortunate children for Christmas. Toys for Tots was started in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks (USMCR) in Los Angeles, CA. In that first year he was able to collect 5,000 toys, the first of which was a handmade doll. The following year, Toys for Tots was adopted by the US Marine Corps and expanded it into a nationwide community action project. A few years later the Toys for Tots Foundation was born, and now works in conjunction with the USMC Toys for Tots as, for all intents and purposes, it’s business office. In recent years, they have added a new program to the “for Tots” line; now you can donate your old vehicles (running or not) to the “Cars for Tots” program, which benefits Toys for Tots. Further information is available about this on the Toys for Tots website.
The popularity of the program grows each year and it has seen its fair share of famous folks as the spokesperson, including a few first ladies, John Wayne, Bob Hope, Clint Eastwood, and Tim Allen…to name just a few. Even the, now famous, train logo was created by Walt Disney. In terms of numbers, by the end of the 2012 campaign Toys for Tots had collected nearly 16.8 million toys which were distributed to more than 7 million underprivileged children.
Accolades: As of 2012, Toys for Tots, has spent 11 consecutive years on the Philanthropy 400, with a current standing of #70. Toys for Tots continues to be considered an accredited charity by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.
Toys for Tots serves the main 50 United States as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, collecting and delivering toys to underprivileged children each Christmas. Each year there are about 700 communities hosting a Toys for Tots Campaign, which is run by one individual who is a Marine (current or retired), a member of a Marine Corps League Detachment, or a member of a local community organization. Toy collection begins as early as October and ends around mid or late December. Collection boxes are placed throughout the community and community members are asked to donate new and unwrapped (no wrapping paper) toys which will later be collected, wrapped by campaign volunteers, and distributed to the children who are in need. To determine if a child will need this extra Christmas hope, Toys for Tots organizers develop working relationships with schools, churches, local charities, and any other organization which are qualified to identify needy children. Additionally, you can request a toy on the Toys for Tots website.
In addition to delivering to the needy children of the US, Toys for Tots also serves the Native American community. The Toys for Tots Native American Program moves some toys and donations out of the collection area (Usually only in California) and reaches out (with the donations) to the disadvantaged Native American children on their Reservations. In 2012, over 177,000 toys were distributed to over 78,000 Native American children in Reservations throughout the United States.
The Toys for Tots campaigns have been so successful in their mission that they have partnered with the UPS Store to create the “Toys for Tots Literacy Program”. The programs mission is “to offer our nation’s most economically disadvantaged children the ability to compete academically and to succeed in life by providing them direct access to resources that will enhance their ability to read and to communicate effectively. They primarily take monetary donations, which help to place books in the hands of the economically downtrodden.
If you are interested in donating, Toys for Tots asks for new and unwrapped (as in, no wrapping paper) toys and books for children of all ages (they serve children from infant to about 16–ages depend on area and availability of gifts). You can place these in boxes scattered throughout your community. To located a box near you, click here. They also take monetary donations and are now offering the option to donate “in honor” or “in memory” of someone. To learn more or donate money, click here. Avila University does participate in the Toys for Tots program, and there are boxes scattered throughout campus for donations; here, at Hooley-Bundschu Library, there are two boxes situated around the Circulation Desk.