Marines make merriment for many[MIGRATE]
By Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz
| December 20, 2012
The spirit of giving grows as the holiday season approaches.
The Toys for Tots Foundation helps bring joy to children in need by collecting and distributing toys and gifts from October to December.
According to the foundation’s official website, “The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots 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.”
In 1947 Maj. Bill Hendricks, a Marine from Los Angeles, who later became the director of public relations at Warner Bros. Studios, and his wife, Diane Hendricks, sought out a charity to deliver a doll, made by Diane, to a needy child for Christmas. After failing to find such a charity, Hendricks and his wife led family and friends in a toy collection, which ultimately gathered around 5,000 toys.
A year later, Marine Reserve Centers throughout the nation conducted toy collections and distribution campaigns in the communities surrounding the centers. This was the beginning of a nationwide community action project, Toys for Tots.
More than 25 Marine Corps Leagues, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other organizations now serve as toy drop off locations.
“People appreciate what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan C. Swanson, a coordinator for the Camp Pendleton and North San Diego County Toys for Tots locations. “We service a lot of low income and military families, and approximately 60,000 kids.
“Once, leatherneck magazine took a picture of a boy who walked up to me, shook my hand and said ‘Thank you for what you do,’” said Swanson, who has volunteered his time with the organization for the past 12 years. “Another time, I gave a mother a toy for her daughter and she literally started crying. That’s why I do this.”
To help change a child’s holiday season by donating a new, unwrapped gift, contact the local Marine Corps Reserve Center, or visit: san-diego-ca.toysfortots.org.