Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. -- In the fall of 1947, a woman named Diane handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked her husband, then-Marine Corps Reserve Major William Hendricks, to deliver the doll to an organization that would give it to a needy child on Christmas.
When Hendricks told his wife that no organization existed, she suggested that he start one. That year, the project was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it into a nationwide campaign, according to the Toys for Tots Web site.
Since, each year the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December and provides them as Christmas gifts to children in the local community.
Each year Marines from Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 work with station volunteers and coordinate with Yuma County businesses to ensure a successful toy collection season.
The Yuma Toys for Tots campaign officially kicks-off Nov. 25, at the Kay-Bee Toys, said Staff Sgt. Rodney Harris, Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 supply chief and Yuma County ToT coordinator.
“The program was created to give toys for children in need,” said Harris. “There are some children here whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts on Christmas, that’s where we come in.”
Harris said it is important for those who can afford to donate toys and money to do so, because it gives Yuma children an opportunity to receive gifts on Christmas, although they could afford to buy them. It also gives service members, who are often regarded as role models, the opportunity to improve the surrounding community in other ways than their service, he said.
“Marines can help sort, pack and ship toys from our warehouse,” said Harris. “All of these things are just as important as donating toys or money. For those who have families to buy presents for, sometimes they can’t afford to give, but donating time and working with the program won’t cost them anything.”
Harris said he would also need Marines to volunteer collecting toys in their dress uniforms at the collection points over Yuma.
For those interested in donating a toy, there are donating bins at the station exchange, Navy Federal Credit Union, and several locations out in town.
Once the campaign kicks off, those who plan to contribute have until Dec. 19 to donate a toy.
For more information on the Yuma County Program, contact Harris at 269-2193.
For more information on the national Toys for Tots program, access the website at www.toysfortots.org.