Toys for Tots began in 1947 as the brain child of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. Actually, it was his wife, Diane, who was the real inspiration. She had crafted a few handcrafted dolls and asked Bill to deliver them to an agency that supports children in need. When Bill reported back to his wife he could not find such an organization, she instructed him to “start one!”. Maj Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in LA collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947. Seeing such successful community engagement in 1947, the Commandant directed all Marine Reserve Sites to implement a TFT campaign transforming it into a national community action program in 1948. Bill Hendrick’s civilian job was Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Studios. He was friends with many celebrities who he asked to help support the newly created Marine Toys for Tots Program. As a personal friend and as a favor to Bill, Walt Disney designed the first Toys for Tots poster which included a miniature three-car train that was subsequently adopted as the Toys for Tots logo. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charity, was established in 1991 at the behest of the Marine Corps to help run and support the Marine Toys for Tots Program.
The Foundation raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated, solicits corporate support, educates the public, and handles day-to-day operations.
Presently, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually.
Toys for Tots Stories:
Cindy, California (Recipient)- Toys for Tots was the only reason I received a gift for Christmas each year as a child. I remember my dad waiting in line the whole day in order for me and my siblings to have something to open on Christmas. I have such great memories thanks to this program. Thank you to everyone who donates to this great cause.
Gary, Maine (Recipient)- Last year, I got laid off right before Christmas. I have three children who would have been devastated if “Santa” had not stopped at our house. My children are my life. I recently broke my back and once again, I was unemployed during the holiday season. I am ever so grateful that Toys for Tots exists. Without Toys for Tots, I would have had three heartbroken kids. Thank you for your generosity once again.
Josie, Washington (Gift Donor) – Hi! My name is Josie and I’m in the fifth grade. This year, I started a toy drive at my school and the response was amazing! I wanted to make a difference for kids so they could get to enjoy Christmas the same way as I do, and I asked my classmates to bring donations. I sewed a big Santa bag and visited the classes at my school and filled it every day for a week. I’m looking forward to dropping them off and making a better Christmas for kids. Thank you and Merry Christmas!