Toys for Tots Celebrates 75 Years
By Kathleen Reynolds
Remember the tickle of expectation on Christmas morning when you peeked to see what anticipated toy was under the tree? For literally thousands of kids in Napa County, though, that excitement is mixed with the nagging knowledge that their parents can’t afford groceries, or that they’re sleeping in the family car. For them, there will be no toy this year.
For 75 years, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program has sought those disadvantaged children so that they, too, can have a new toy to brighten their holiday season.
“Last year, we collected 13,342 toys and supported 3,000 children in Napa Valley, and we are hoping to do even better this year,” says Kristofer Chun, leader of the 2022 Toys for Tots campaign in Napa, in an email.
The history of Toys for Tots program began in 1947, when Marine Reserve Major Bill Hendricks created the program with his wife in the Los Angeles area. His friend Walt Disney designed the train logo the following year and the program expanded nationally.
Since its founding, Marines and volunteers have distributed 627 million toys to over 281 million children. In 2021, Toys for Tots distributed a record 22.4 million toys to nearly 8.8 million less-fortunate children in America.
People may not realize that the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program also provides year-round support to families experiencing challenges and exceptional circumstances, thus helping to fulfill the hopes and dreams of millions of families and children in need.
Napa’s Marine Corps Toys for Tots organization partners with many other not-for-profit agencies throughout the Napa Valley to determine which families need help during the holiday season. The national group does not take toy requests directly, but if you know of a child in need, Napa’s Salvation Army usually has information and applications in October every year.
The most familiar way to donate is to bring a new, unwrapped toy to one of the numerous drop-off locations around the valley.
Other ways to participate are listed on the national and local websites: toyfortots.org and napa-ca.toysfortots.org. You can donate funds online or choose an item from their virtual toybox. More ways to contribute include peer-to-peer fundraising, donating through PayPal, having a holiday recognition program for your clients, giving in honor of someone and making a vehicle, stock or even cryptocurrency donation.
If you prefer the traditional way of donating your children enjoy picking out a toy for an unfortunate
child, Kristofer says there are many local opportunities to give.
“This year in Napa, we will be dropping off boxes the first week of November to nearly 100 locations from American Canyon to Calistoga,” he says. “The final pick-up of toys and the boxes will be between December 5-9. However, we will accept donation at the firehouses in Napa until Christmas.”
For this Toys for Tots diamond anniversary, why not start or continue a tradition of giving to a needy child to brighten their holiday?