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Santa walking by Marine Corps Uniform

10 Unexpected Facts about Toys for Tots...and One Simple Way to Give Love

Santa walking past Marine Corps uniform

The Chain Reaction of Kindness

Have you ever been in a line at a fast-food place and pulled up to the window only to have the cashier tell you that the person in front of you paid for your meal?

It’s unexpected. It’s cool. It makes you feel good, an act of generosity that propels me to do the same thing for the car behind me.

A chain reaction starts. One kindness generates another, and sometimes, the reaction is sustained through a dozen cars or more. I even read about a paying-it-forward (or backward if we want to be literal about it) episode in Minnesota during the height of the pandemic when someone paid for the customer behind them, and the repetition of generosity lasted through 900 transactions!

All a “good cause” needs is one small gesture to gain momentum.

That’s what happened with Toys for Tots in 1947…

10 Unexpected Facts about Toys for Tots

1. It wasn’t a Marine who got the idea to give toys to needy kids. It was a Marine Corps Reserve Officer’s wife.

In 1947, Major Bill Hendricks’ wife, Diane, made a few handcrafted dolls to give to an agency who helped needy children. When Major Hendricks couldn’t find an organization to help him, his wife urged him to start one.

That first year, Major Hendricks enlisted the support of his Marine Corps Reserve buddies in the Los Angeles area, and they collected and distributed 5000 toys…all because of one woman’s idea of giving.

2. Seeing Goodness-in-Action Inspires a Toys for Tots National Initiative

When the Commandant saw the generosity and good works of Major Hendricks’ unit, he decided that ALL Marine Reserve sites should institute a Toys for Tots campaign.

One woman’s kindness grew to a national initiative in 1948.

3. Walt Disney himself helped get Toys for Tots Going

You know the phrase, “I get by with a little help from a friend?” Well, Major Bill Hendricks had a “day job.” He worked as the Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Studios and he knew a lot of talented people, many of them celebrities. He wasn’t afraid to tell them about this new program he had been part of with the United States Marine Corps Reserves.

As a personal favor to his friend, Walt Disney designed the first Toys for Tots poster, putting a cheerful little train at the bottom. That little choo-choo train became become the official logo for the organization and remains so to this day, seventy-three years later.

,Cartoon Santa. Toys for Tots 1948 Poster

4. Toys for Tots Grew Because People Are Basically Good and Want to Help

From the first year of its existence, Toys for Tots has grown. People DO want to help kids and spreading the message about the campaign is an easy thing to do. Buying a toy to contribute is one simple way to spread love, too.

That’s why over the course of its history, Toys for Tots has had a diverse cast of corporations and characters support its efforts: Nat King Cole, Billy Ray Cyrus. Astronaut John Glenn and athlete Shaquille O’Neal. First ladies Nancy Reagan, Michelle Obama (eight years in a row,) and Melania Trump. The New York Yankees, The Blue Angels, Wheel of Fortune, Pizza Hut, and UPS – along with hundreds of other groups – have donated generously and often.

5. Over the years, Toys for Tots has grown its philanthropic efforts

Philanthropy 400 is a list generated by The Chronicle that ranks “America’s nonprofits based on the contributions they raise from individuals, foundations, and corporations.”

In 2001, Toys for Tots made the list for the first time, ranking #289 out of the top 400 most generous organizations in the country.

6. Toys for Tots Pays Attention to Children with Special Circumstances

Yes, Toys for Tots is about putting presents under the tree for needy children at Christmastime. But the organization also pays attention to kids who find themselves in need of special help under unusual circumstances.

In 1992, Toys for Tots gave more than a quarter-million toys to kids who had been the victim of Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Louisiana.

In 2001, Toys for Tots held a special event for kids who had lost parents on September 11th.

7. Toys for Tots’ Handy Headquarters

The headquarters for Toys for Tots Foundation is 35 miles from Washington, D.C., just outside the gates of the Marine Base at Quantico.

Plenty of hands ready to help!

8. Toy Manufacturers Are Some of the Top Supporters of Toys for Tots

While Toys for Tots has hundreds of incredibly generous benefactors and thousands upon thousands of individual citizens who contribute, some of the organization’s top supporters are toy manufacturers.

In 2008, Build-a-Bear gave five million dollars’ worth of bears and stuffed animals, and 2017, Build-a-Bear gave $11 million. Hasbro has been a top sponsor of Toys for Tots for more than twenty years, donating a cumulative 6 MILLION toys valued at $60 million dollars.

9. Toys for Tots Also Promotes Literacy

It’s not just about toys…. Toys for Tots promotes literacy and the distribution of books. With the help of the UPS store drives, in 2017, Toys for Tots distributed 37 million books to children throughout the country.

10. Toys for Tots Expects to Distribute 6 Million Toys This Year!

Toys for Tots plans to distribute more than six million toys this year, despite projected supply-line shortages and delays.

After all these years, the group knows it can count on the generosity of the American people.

Remember that chain-reaction giving and paying it forward at fast-food places? That’s what we hope to continue in 2021 with our ServiceOne Toys for Tots Drive because if there was ever a good cause, this is one!

Pay your good fortune forward by buying a child a toy and starting a chain-reaction of generosity!

Plus, because ServiceOne believes in Toys for Tots, we’re going to help you in two ways. One, we’re going to encourage you to get a Precision Tune-Up which will check your furnace before cool weather and prevent problems in the future. Second, we’ll give you $20 OFF on a Precision Tune-Up if you donate a toy.

  • Call for your Precision Tune-Up, and when you give us a toy during our visit, we’ll take $20 OFF your bill.
  • Even if you don’t want a Precision Tune-Up, we’ll pick up donations of new, unwrapped toys on ANY scheduled service call we make to your home.
  • If you want to spread the word and collect toys from your neighbors, too, we’ll pick them all up when we’re at your house.

Buying a toy is just one simple way to give love!

Our goal is to give back to the community and have a huge assortment of toys for the Marine Corps this year!