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 Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity located in Triangle, Virginia, serves to fund, raise funds for, and support the program.
Toys for Tots began as a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947. William Hendricks 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.
Until 1979, Marine reservists (frequently in their dress blue uniforms) and volunteers would collect and refurbish used toys. In 1980, only new toys were accepted, as reservists were no longer able to dedicate drill hours to refurbish toys, as well as legal concerns and the mixed message of giving hand-me-downs as a message of hope.
In 1991, the Secretary of Defense authorized the creation and affiliation with the non-profit charity foundation. In 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve.
Noting in 1996 that many communities did not have a Marine reservist presence, the commander of Marine Forces Reserve authorized Marine Corps League detachments and other local organizations to fill the gaps in toy collection and distribution. In 2009, the program received support from Michelle Obama, who placed the first collection box at the White House.
As of 2009, the Toys for Tots Program and Foundation have collected and distributed almost five hundred million toys. In December 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama took part in a Toys for Tots activity at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
As for Toys 4 Tots in Second Life, this is our 7th year. We started with a meager undertaking with the live music groups and venues and raised $2500.00 USD. Toys 4 Tots in SL was founded by Pat Wunderland of Wunderland Records, who came up with the idea to help all we could by using the live music talents to create a CD to give with a donation. It was figured that $500L would buy one toy in RL and that was the set price of the CD donation. The second year became more successful and we gained more musicians and venues in our endeavors. Since the 2nd year, Rocky Hillburton, of Smokin' ACEs, took the reigns and we started venturing into a different direction with the breedables and bikes. In the 5 years we have endorsed this program we have raised over $100,000.00 USD for Toys 4 Tots. Our excitement has grown this year with our first annual expo. There has been some hurdles that we have had to overcome and we know that next year will be an even bigger success with the knowledge we have learned this year. We cannot thank you enough for all your support in such a great organization.
The mission of the program "is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted." The stated goal is to "deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens."
Thank you again,
Toys 4 Tots of SL CEO