MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Christmas carols, holiday decorations, brightly lit trees and gifts topped with bows all symbolize the holiday season that normally brings joy to children everywhere. However, the holiday season can be a difficult time for those that are less fortunate.
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is in full swing for 2010, to bring holiday cheer to those who don’t have the means to afford new toys. Toys for Tots is a nonprofit organization designed to provide toys, books, and gifts to less fortunate children during the holiday season.
“It is a great campaign because it provides a toy or gift to children during one of the most special times in a child’s life,” said Maj. Donald C. Prograis, coordinator, Toys for Tots San Diego. “The holidays are filled with hope and wonder, and a gift to a child sustains that hope, wonder, and happiness.”
According to Prograis, the organization was created in 1947 by Maj. Bill Hendricks, a reserve Marine from Los Angeles. The program was conceived in part due to Major Hendricks’ wife, Diane, said Prograis. Diane made some toys and asked her husband to give the toys to an organization who would distribute them to children in need. Hendricks soon realized there was no such organization.
“Major Hendricks and his Marines collected approximately 5000 toys that year and distributed them to children in the Los Angeles area,” said Prograis. “By 1948 the Marine Corps had adopted the program nationwide.”
Currently, there are over 700 sites across the country, and more than 170 of those are run by Marine Corps units. All others are run by Marine Corps Leagues, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or other organizations. Approximately 80,000 children in San Diego county benefit from Toys for Tots each year, said Prograis.
“Toys for Tots supports more than 7 million children,” said Prograis. “Sadly that is only half of the 14 million living in poverty. It has been said that it takes a community to raise a child. Part of raising that child is showing them what charity is all about, and it takes the charity of the community to take care of our thousands of children in need this holiday season,” he said.
For more information about Toys for Tots visit www.toysfortots.org. If interested in volunteering contact Deborah Anderson at 760-226-6166.