Military Wiki
Toys for Tots
Founder(s) Bill and Juliana Hendricks
Location Triangle, Virginia
Key people United States Marine Corps Reserve
File:Toys for tots.jpg

An early official promotional photo from the Toys for Tots program


InPhonic's CEO and CFO present the results of the company's drive in December 2006

FEMA donations following Hurricane Katrina

Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The program was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks.[1]

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity located in Triangle, Virginia, serves to fund, raise funds for, and support the program.


Toys for Tots began as a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947. William Hendricks was inspired by his wife Diane when she tried to donate a homemade Raggedy Ann doll to a needy child but could find no organization to do so. At her suggestion he gathered a group of local Marine reservists, including Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton,[2] who coordinated and collected some 5,000 toys for local children that year from collection bins placed outside of Warner Bros. movie theaters.[2] Their efforts were so successful. In 1948, a report on the feasibility for community relations and recruitment was written by Maj.Donald G. Clarke USMCR. Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign. Hendricks used his position as director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio to enlist celebrity support, as well as have Walt Disney Studios design the red toy train logo.[1]

Until 1979, Marine reservists (frequently in their dress blue uniforms) and volunteers would collect and refurbish used toys. In 1980, only new toys were accepted, as reservists were no longer able to dedicate drill hours to refurbish toys, as well as legal concerns and the mixed message of giving hand-me-downs as a message of hope.[1]

In 1991, the Secretary of Defense authorized the creation and affiliation with the non-profit charity foundation. In 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve.[3]

Noting in 1996 that many communities did not have a Marine reservist presence, the commander of Marine Forces Reserve authorized Marine Corps League detachments and other local organizations to fill the gaps in toy collection and distribution.[3] In 2009, the program received support from Michelle Obama, who placed the first collection box at the White House.[4]

As of 2009, the Toys for Tots Program and Foundation have collected and distributed almost five hundred million toys.[1]

In December 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama took part in a Toys for Tots activity at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.[5][6]


The mission of the 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."

The stated goal is to "deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens."

Notable achievements

  • 2003 Outstanding Nonprofit Organization of the Year (DMA NPF)
  • Reader's digest Best Children's Charity of 2003
  • One of the top 10 charities of 2003 on the Forbes "Gold Star" list.
  • Charity Navigator four star ratings in both 2005 and 2006.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

External links

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