MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The time of the year draws near as Toys for Tots gears up to start collecting donations for needy children in the high- and low-desert communities to have a more joyful Christmas experience.
"It's important to think about the children in the community," said Staff Sgt. Darryl Elliot, Reserve Support Unit supply chief. "This is our way of bonding with the community."
Nationwide, more than 7.5 million children received gifts through the generous efforts of the campaign.
“Our Combat Center’s effort was a resounding success [in 2004] by collecting more than 26,000 toys that were distributed to some 17,000 youngsters,” said Col. Anthony F.
Weddington, Toys for Tots officer-in-charge.
Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks, Marine Corps Reserve, collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. His wife, Diane, game him the idea when she handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked him to deliver it to an organization, which would give it to a needy child for Christmas.
When Hendricks determined that no such organization existed, he decided to start one.
The Marine Corps adopted the program the following year and expanded it to a nationwide campaign. So far, the Marine Corps has given toys to more than 158.8 million children through its 57 years of devotion to helping needy children have a better Christmas.
Volunteers are needed to ensure Toys for Tots is a successful campaign. The Toys for Tots Hotline starts December 1 for about three weeks, and coordinators need volunteers to work two-hour blocks of time. The RSU warehouse staff also needs volunteers to unload, sort and package the toys.
Marine volunteers are needed to wear Dress Blues at toy collection barrels at various locations around the community.
Even though it may seem early in the season, it’s never too early to start thinking and planning for the Toys for Tots campaign.
“It’s really a year-round effort. It takes that much involvement,” said Capt. Mark Bodde, RSU OIC. “Without the community support and involvement it wouldn’t work. Essentially, it’s citizens helping other citizens.”
Some of the events planned for this year include: a golf tournament, a motorcycle poker run, and the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School fun run and annual Chili Cook-Off.
Information and dates for the events will be in upcoming editions of the Observation Post.