Origin and Evolution of Toys for Tots Program

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Origin and Evolution of Toys for Tots Program

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Toys for Tots began in 1947 as the brainchild of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks, Actually, it was his wife, Diane, who was the real inspiration. She had crafted a few handcrafted dolls and asked Bill to deliver them to an agency that supports children in need.

When Bill reported back to his wife that he could not find such an organization, she instructed him to “start one!”. Maj Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in LA collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947.

Seeing such successful community engagement in 1947, the Commandant directed all Marine Reserve Sites to implement a TFT campaign transforming it into a national community action program in 1948.

Bill Hendrick’s civilian job was Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Studios. He was friends with many celebrities who he asked to help support the newly created Marine Toys for Tots Program. As a personal friend and as a favor to Bill, Walt Disney designed the first Toys for Tots poster which included a miniature three-car train that was subsequently adopted as the Toys for Tots logo.

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charity, was established in 1991 at the behest of the Marine Corps to help run and support the Marine Toys for Tots Program.

The Foundation raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated, solicits corporate support, educates the public, and handles day-to-day operations.

Presently, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually.

      How Can I Get Involved – CLICK HERE

Here in Montgomery County MD – Local Community Officer Mr. Paul Gunther is a Retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with 21 years of service.  He first volunteered in 1978 while stationed with the Marine Corps in Camp Lejeune, NC distributing tools to needy families near the base.

In 2011 a Marine SSGT asked if he would take over the duties of LCO in Montgomery County and so in 2012 he took over.

Every year, my first priority is to find a space to bring toys to; to be separated by age and gender,  so when we get a request for families children we fill those requests.  This year I\’ll need even more space because of COVID-19 guidelines of social distancing and wearing of masks.

10 to 20,000 square feet of space will be needed.  In return, Toys for Tots will issue a document (Gift In-Kind Donation) letter that can be used for tax\’s.

How else can you help? Businesses can \”Become a Toy Dropsite\”.  Where the public can drop off a toy.  We will deliver collection boxes and posters so you can participate.  Go to:


From a PC click on Get Involved

then click on Become a Toy Dropsite. Fill out form completely and we will deliver in November then return in early December to pick up the donations.

If you hosting a Holiday party and want us to attend we can do that.  Be aware that we do not have a reserve unit in Montgomery County however we do have a Marine Corps League detachment in Rockville.   To sign up go to Get Involved and click on Hosting an Event.

But first and foremost I need a large open space right now so I can set it up correctly for collection/distribution.


USMC Toys for Tots Campaign

Maryland USMC Toys For Tots Campaign

Montgomery County USMC Toys For Tots Campaign

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