The Legendary Generosity of Toys for Tots

I am always fascinated by traditions that pre-date me. How did they get started? How long have they been enacted? How does something become a rule of thumb and a constant with continuity over time?  One of the greatest examples, something that has become a reliable yearly tradition at Christmastime, is the annual Toys-For-Tots drive. Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The program was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks.

The legacy:

Toys for Tots began as a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947. Major Bill Hendricks, USCR, was inspired by his wife Diane when she tried to donate a homemade Raggedy Ann doll to a needy child but could find no organization to do so. At her suggestion, he gathered a group of local Marine reservists, including Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton, who coordinated and collected some 5,000 toys for local children that year from collection bins placed outside of Warner Bros. movie theaters. Their efforts were so successful that, in 1948, Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign. Hendricks used his position as director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio to enlist celebrity support, as well as have Walt Disney Studios design the red toy train logo.

As of 2013, the Toys for Tots Program and Foundation have collected and distributed more than 469 million toys.

    -- How about that?! 

But, I had some questions -- like how do you know your toys are going somewhere worthwhile? How do we make sure that no one gets left out. 

I can't even imagine what the pick-up and delivery entails. 

Local Marines Sgt. Lewis and Staff Sgt. O'Leary are Currently based out of Stewart Field. 

They have all these answers and more.

Shown with the Young CPA's of Mid-Hudson region at their Toys for Tots holiday program 12/5/13

Sgt.Lewis and Sgt. O'Leary are spearheading the Toys-For-Tots program across Ulster, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan and Rockland counties. 

The Newburgh Armory is home to the nearly 13,000 toys that have been collected so far this year. 

Morehead Honda donated a trailer to help cart the donations. 

Organizers in five corresponding counties have their work cut out for them collecting items from a multitude of drives and drop-off points. The Marines work with designated 501(c)3's (non-profits i.e. churchs, children's homes, etc.) to make sure that the toys are run through verified channels so they get to those who need it most. Toys are left unwrapped so they can get to age-appropriate recipients. 

One thing you may not know about the toy drive: home made items are acceptable. 


Please share your Toy Drive in the comment section below! 

**Morehead Honda is collecting items at their showroom on Route 17k in Newburgh.