Bringing the Joy of Christmas to less fortunate Children
Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea came from Bill’s wife, Diane. In the fall of 1947, Diane handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver the doll to an organization, which would give it to a needy child at Christmas. When Bill determined that no agency existed, Diane told Bill that he should start one. He did.
The 1947 campaign was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it into a nationwide campaign. That year, Marine Corps Reserve units across the nation conducted Toys for Tots campaigns in each community in which a Marine Reserve Center was located. Marines have conducted successful nationwide campaigns at Christmas each year since 1948. The initial objective that remains the hallmark of the program today is to “bring the joy of Christmas to America’s needy children”.
Bill Hendricks, a Marine Reservists on weekends, was, in civilian life, the director of public relations for Warner Brothers Studio. This enabled him to convince a vast array of celebrities to support Toys for Tots. In 1948, Walt Disney designed the Toys for Tots logo, which the organization still uses today. Disney also designed the first Toys for Tots poster used to promote the nationwide program.
Celebrities to helped support the program in the beginning included Nat “King” Cole, Peggy Lee, Vic Damone, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Doris Day, Lorrie Morgan, Tim Allen, Kenny Rogers, Billy Ray Cyrus and many more.
Marines Toys for Tots