One of the highlights of the year for me is working with Toys for Tots. I have had the privilege of being the co-coordinator the past five years with George Hite from the Marine Corps League of Pierce County.
Toys for Tots began in 1947. Major Bill Hendricks, USCR, 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 take her gift. At her suggestion, Major Hendricks gathered a group of local Marine reservists, who coordinated, collected and distributed some 5,000 toys for local youth in need in Los Angeles. Now, 66 years later here in Tacoma, the Toys for Tots program distributes 50,000-plus toys each year to local kids in need. This could not be done without the coordinated efforts of many groups and people. The majority of the work is done by the Marine Corps League here in Pierce County Detachment 504. Additional help from Crime Stoppers volunteers and financial backing from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians along with 300 individual volunteers, including many members of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, ensure every child gets a new toy for Christmas.
Toys for Tots is a mammoth undertaking and is 100 percent volunteer, including a team of women from the Washington State Women’s Correctional Center. They work for a month prior to Christmas in a cold warehouse with no heat or other amenities to make sure toys are sorted and ready for distribution. Donated toys are sent to sites throughout Pierce County including the new Elks Club here in Tacoma where members handle the distribution. The toys are given to families identified by DSHS, school counselors and other non-profits vetted by our program to ensure the gifts end up in the hands of kids in need.
You can help make sure every child gets a toy this year by donating a new unwrapped toy – without the donations from you, none of this works and kids will go without. So thanks to all of you who continue to support us and give the kids hope.