Toys for Tots campaign brings Christmas cheer to local children

Sarah Bethea

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The UNF Military and Veterans Resource Center is collecting donations for the annual Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive, so children whose parents can’t afford to buy them gifts for the holidays are able to have a cheerful Christmas.

The drive, which started on Nov. 1 and is running through Dec. 12, asks people to donate new and unwrapped toys. Items such as food, clothing or things that require a system to use, like movies and video games, cannot be collected.

According to the Toys for Tots website, 548 million toys have been donated to children in need since 1947, when the program got its start thanks to Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks and his wife Diane. In their first year, 5,000 toys were collected and donated. Hendricks, who was also the Director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio, was a personal friend of Walt Disney. As a favor, Disney designed the original Toys for Tots poster, which featured the iconic three-car train logo that is still used today.

Since its creation, over 251 million children have been supported by the program. The Marine Toys for Tots program has consistently been recognized as one of the top-rated charities by Philanthropy 400 and earned a four-star rating by CharityNavigator.org.

If you are interested in donating, you can drop off a new and unwrapped toy to the Military and Veterans Resource Center, Bldg. 2, Suite 1100 until Dec. 12. There are a variety of other toy drop sites around Jacksonville, just visit their local campaign’s Facebook page here to find out where.