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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Toys for Tots - Providing Hope and Happiness to Children for Over 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 76 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 2023 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: and and the QR code. 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 gift or 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 donations 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?

Last year, Napa’s Holiday Assistance Program with the support of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army, fulfilled the holiday wishes and dreams of over 3,000 children here in Napa with over 12,000 toys! Since its inception in 1947, this the Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign has distributed over 604 million toys to over 272 million children across the United States.

Toys for Tots, a 76-year national charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, provides happiness and hope to less fortunate children during each Christmas holiday season. The toys, books, and other gifts collected and distributed by our Marines and volunteers during Christmas offer these children recognition, confidence, and a positive memory for a lifetime.

As the holiday season approaches, there’s no better time to ignite the spirit of generosity and spread joy throughout our communities. We invite you to be a part of this heartwarming journey that has the power to make a significant difference in the lives of children in need, including those who are unhoused, in foster care, or have parents who are incarcerated.

If you or you know of a family that could benefit from our program, the Salvation Army is doing two in-person application events. October 13th from 3-7pm and October 21st from 10am-2pm.

The joy of giving is immeasurable, and it multiplies when we come together as a community. Thank you for your unwavering support, and together, let’s make this holiday season a truly magical one for every child

Remember, the true magic of the season lies in giving.


Public Events Where Toys for Tots Donations Will Be Accepted:

Tuesday, Nov. 21 | 4-7 pm Meritage Resort Skate Night - 850 Bordeaux Way, Napa For each unwrapped toy valued at $20 or more, there will be a free skate rental, a free hour of ice time and free treats.

Wednesday, Nov. 22 | 6-8 pm

Christmas Tree Lighting Event - Veterans Park, Napa

Friday, Dec. 1 | 4-6pm

Corner of Franklin & 1st Steet, Napa - Cadet Wine Bar, Fidelity and others are having a Downtown Toy Drive

Sunday, Dec. 10 | 12pm-12AM

Bilco’s Toys for Tots -1234 3rd Street, Napa

Bring a toy valued at $10 or more or donate $10 to the toy drive for free pool and free live entertainment.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Online Starting Oct. 13th

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In Person Registrations 590 Franklin St, Napa Oct. 13, 2023 - 3pm to 7pm

Oct. 21, 2023 - 10am to 2pm

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