Toys for Tots: A simple idea, an easy way to give

Many companies and organizations start based on a very simple idea: Someone sees a need and decides to fill it.

In 1947, Toys for Tots started in this same way. Diane Hendricks made a doll and asked her husband, Major Bill Hendricks of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, to give the doll to an organization that would give it to a needy child at Christmas.

Major Hendricks couldn’t find one, so he started Toys for Tots. That year, he and his group of Marine Corps Reservists collected and gave out 5,000 toys. Not a bad start! (No wonder he ended his career as a colonel.)

If you’re not familiar with Toys for Tots, it’s one of the easiest ways to help needy kids smile. Each year, more and more places become toy drop-off locations. You’ll see drop-off boxes in stores, in doctors’ offices, in office buildings and even at other charity events.

You can spend as much or as little as you want. Buy a football or board game. Buy a doll or a toy truck. Toys“R”Us usually has Toys for Tots drop boxes, so you can add one more toy to your cart and drop it off on your way out the door. You don’t even wrap it.

The Marines have kept this donation program going for 63 years—44 years without an official foundation to support their national efforts. Pretty darn impressive—but then, would we expect anything less from Marines?

I love kids, and this is such an easy way to donate that I give every year. Another reason I give, though, is because of the Marines. I figure, if these men and women can find time to help even in times of war, then I have no excuse not to give.

And, since this is a marketing blog, I’ll add what a great example this is for businesses to follow:

  • Find a need and fill it.
  • Make it easy for your customers to take action.
  • Maintain a strong, honorable brand.

But today’s blog isn’t really about marketing. I just thought I’d take this holiday time to focus on a real story of giving.

And, Toys for Tots is a great way to introduce your kids to the idea of giving. It’s so easy, even a 2-year-old can do it. (The above picture is my niece–with her mom–after she donated her first toy last year. )


Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy the time with the ones you love. Let’s keep the spirit of giving going, every month of each year. Can’t afford to give this yea? Try these free ways to help others: Fight hunger and learn new words at the same time at Free Rice. Click to help the cause of your choice at the Hunger Site.

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