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The Toys for Tots Program is run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and is directed by the Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, and the staff from the Marine Forces Reserve. It is a recognizes non-profit charity that provides the leadership, funding, and support for annual toy collection and distribution.

Campaigns stretch over a wide variety of communities, reaching overall 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Toy campaigns begin in October and last until mid to late December. Then, distribution takes place around mid to late December. The nature of the collections ask members of the community to drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes–coordinators will pick up these toys and sort them by age and gender. After they are classified, the toys are then distributed to less fortunate children in the community. Often, in local communities Toys for Tots has established a close relationship with churches, schools, and other community agencies which aid in identifying and distributing to needy children.

The impact of this program has been tremendous in its measurability, and even more tremendous in its unmeasurable influence. The program was developed in 1947, and since then approximately 548 million toys have been distributed to about 251 million children.

The success of the program is not just a product of the organization, but additionally the local community serving its role. Success depends heavily on the generosity of local communities, local business leaders, and corporations. They lend not only materials but provide a platform of visibility.

The mission is not just confined to giving the child a toy but aims to simultaneously provide them with a message of hope and educational assets to strive for future independence. The Marines involved in the program also sought to form a type of passive mentorship and positively influence the children. According to their mission statement, “Economically disadvantaged children who receive toys through the Toys for Tots program have an opportunity to observe first hand how young men and women, just like themselves, have achieved success. Youngsters readily recognize that Marines achieve their success through adherence to the highest standards of discipline, grooming, patriotism, physical fitness and moral character.”

Toys for Tots, although it has been around for over 50 years, continues to improve its program and expand. For instance, between 1947 and 1979, Marines used to distribute both new and used toys. Then, they shifted and were able only to distribute new toys. The joy primarily fueled this change that a child got from opening a new toy that was all theirs–it sent a message of joy, hope, and worth that enhanced their self-esteem.

This philanthropy is undoubtedly one that will continue to grow in the future and bring joy to children all over the country. Click here for info on how you can get involved in your local campaign.