Chronological History of The Toys for Tots Programs

 

1947 Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR founds Toys for Tots in Los Angeles, California.  5,000 toys collected during a campaign before Christmas 1947.  The first toy is a handmade doll.

1948 The United States Marine Corps adopts Toys for Tots, and expands it into a nationwide community action project as the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program.  Marines at each Reserve Center throughout the nation conduct toy collection and distribution campaigns in the communities surrounding the center.

Walt Disney designs the now famous Toys for Tots train logo and creates the first national Toys for Tots poster.  These Christmas posters have become a recognized part of the annual program, and through the years have featured such notable characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Dennis the Menace, Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner.  Posters have been designed by a member of the Association of Handicapped Artists, by Marine Corps Reserve artists as well as an array of well known artists such as Ted Drake and Bob Timberlake.

1949 Major celebrities begin to endorse the program.  Over the years Toys for Tots Spokespersons have included John Wayne, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, George Strait, Brooke Shields, Charlton Heston, Ann Margaret, Sammy Davis, Jr., Doris Day, Andy Griffith, Charlie Daniels, Clint Eastwood, Lorrie Morgan, Johnny Carson, Tim Allen, Kenny Rogers, Joe Foss, John Glenn, Heather French Henry (Miss America 2000), and Billy Ray Cyrus.  First Ladies, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, served as National Toys for Tots Spokespersons.

1956 Oscar winning songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Webster compose the Toys for Tots theme, which was later recorded by Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee and Vic Damone.

1959 Toys for Tots goes international.  Although the program is designed to be a local program for local children of the United States, Toys for Tots went international on three occasions.  The first followed the catastrophic typhoon that devastated the city of Nagoya, Japan, in 1959.  The other two occasions were to the Republic of Panama following the invasion in 1988 and to the Caribbean following Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

1960 KABC-TV of Los Angeles receives the highest non-military award possible from the Commandant of the Marine Corps for sponsoring a spectacular Toys for Tots Circus.

1962 New York Yankees sponsor first major sports event to benefit Toys for Tots – a “bring a toy game” with the Washington Senators.  Since then the world of professional sports, both teams and individual athletes from virtually every sport, have supported Toys for Tots.

1970s The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program continues to grow, as does public support.  More Businesses become involved, and local civilian organizations and individuals assist Reserve Units with local programs.  Program grows to the level of an average of 6 million toys collected and distributed annually. 

From 1947 through Christmas 1979, Marines collected and distributed both new and used toys.  Reservists refurbished used toys on drill weekends during October, November and December.

1980 From Christmas 1980 onward, Marines collect and distribute only new toys.

1983 First Lady Nancy Reagan was the National Spokesperson for Toys for Tots.

1988 Diane Hendricks, creator of the first Toys for Tots toy, a handmade doll, passed away on October 13th at age 82.

1989 U. S. Marine Corps identifies the need for the creation of a charity to be the fundraising and support organization for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

1990 First national television network promotion for Toys for Tots.  King World Merv Griffin Productions’ evening television game show, “Wheel of Fortune”, and Pizza Hut conduct a three week promotion of Toys for Tots that raises nearly $3,000,000.  It set several records that are recorded in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for participation and donations made to a call in promotion.  Marine Corps Reserve units collected and distributed over 7.9 million toys.  Marine Reserves are mobilized for Desert Shield/Storm, but Toys for Tots goes on.

1991 Secretary of Defense authorized the Marine Corps to recognize and work with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.  In September, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation became an operational organization and supported Toys for Tots for the first time during the Christmas 1991 campaign.  The Foundation provided 500,000 toys to supplement the collections of Reserve Units.  The Foundation headquarters was located in Buffalo, NY.

1992 Marine Reserve Units collect and distribute over 7.4 million toys.  Marine Toys for Tots Foundation provides over 2500,000 toys for children of Florida and Louisiana who were victims of Hurricane Andrew.

First Lady Barbara Bush was National Spokesperson for Toys for Tots.

The Marine Corps and everyone associated with Toys for Tots Mourns the passing of the founder of Toys for Tots, Colonel William L. Hendricks, USMCR (Ret) on March 29 at age 87.

The Memorandum of Agreement between Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is signed.

1993 Marine Reserve Units collect and distribute over 8,000,000 toys.  Marine Toys for Tots Foundation provided 959,000 of those toys.  Special toy deliveries were made to the victims of the Mississippi basin floods.  LtGen Mathew T. Cooper, USMC (Ret) becomes the President and CEO of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation on September 1, 1993.

1994 Marine Reserve Units distributed over 6,800,000 toys and brought the joy of Christmas to 3,400,000 underprivileged children.  The Foundation provided over 800,000 of these toys.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation headquarters relocates from Buffalo, NY to Marine Corps Base, Quantico, VA on
February 1, 1994.

1995 Marine Reserve Units collect over 8,100,000 toys and distributed them to over 4,200,000 underprivileged children.  The Foundation provided over 2,000,000 of these toys.  TV star Tim Allen was the National Toys for Tots Spokesperson.

Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U. S. Marine Corps and as an official mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve.

A Memorandum of Understanding between Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Toys for Tots Foundation replaces the 1992 MOA.

1996 Marine Reserve Units distributed over 7,200,000 toys and brought the joy of Christmas to over 4,100,000 underprivileged children.  The Foundation provided over 2,000,000 of these toys.  Country Western singer Garth Brooks supported Toys for Tots by giving concerts dedicated to Toys for Tots and by providing public service announcements to aid local program efforts.

Commander, Marine Forces Reserve expands Toys for Tots to cover all 50 states by authorizing selected Marine Corps League Detachments and selected local community organizations (generally veteran Marines), located in communities without a Marine Reserve Center, to conduct toy collection and distribution campaigns in their communities as part of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

With the concurrence of Marine Forces Reserve, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation publishes the first Standing Operation Procedures Manual for the conduct of the local Toys for Tots Campaign.

1997 Marines celebrate the 50th anniversary of Toys for Tots.  On June 6th, the President and CEO, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation hosted a 50th anniversary reception at the John Phillips Sousa Band Hall at Marine Barracks, Washington, DC.  The receptions featured an inspiring speech by the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Charles C. Krulak.  Following the reception, the Marine Corps dedicated their traditional Friday evening parade at Marine Barracks, Washing to Toys for Tots.

On December 3rd, Warner Brothers Studio hosted a 50th anniversary Toys for Tots event at their Hollywood studio during which the late Bill Hendricks was posthumously presented the Navy Meritorious Public Service Award.

The support of millions of caring Americans and a large contingent of national corporations enabled Marines to collect and distribute over 10,000,000 toys to over 4,700,000 needy children throughout the nation at Christmas 1997.

This enabled the 1997 Toys for Tots campaign to surpass all previous records in terms of toys collected and children reached.  The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation also had its most successful campaign to date hence was able to supplement local collections with over 3,300,000 toys.

Entertainer, Kenny Rogers was the National Spokesperson during the 50th anniversary year.

Joe Burden of Washington, DC composed a special 50th anniversary song for Toys for Tots.

1998 Marines began the second 50 years of Toys for Tots.  The campaign was launched with the annual Toys for Tots reception at Marine Barracks, Washington, DC, hosted by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.  Once again, Million of caring American and a record 58 national corporations supported Toys for Tots.

Marines collected and distributed over 11,200,000 toys to over 4,800,000 needy children throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.  The extraordinary efforts of the 314 local Toys for Tots Coordinators, along with the support of Americans nationwide and corporate America, enable the 1998 campaign to surpass all previous records in terms of toys collected and children reached.  The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation provided 6,800,000 of the 11,200,000 toys distributed by the Marines.

1999 Marines and volunteers in 342 communities in  all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the American Samoa collected and distributed over 13.7 million toys to over 5.9 million needy children.  This was the most extensive nationwide coverage in the 52 year history of Toys for Tots.  The 1999 campaign surpassed all previous records for collecting toys and for helping needy children experience the joy of Christmas.  The Foundation supplemented local toy collections with an impressive 7,500,000 toys.

The Commander, Marine Forces Reserve delegated authority to the President, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to manage local Toys for Tots programs in communities without a Marine Reserve Center.

2000 Beginning with the National Kick-off Luncheon at the Sheraton National in Arlington, Virginia, on November 17th, the 2000 campaign started fast and never looked back.  John Glenn (veteran Marine, astronaut and U. S. Senator) and Heather French Henry (Miss America 2000) were the Guests of Honor—both gave inspiring remarks to the 500 attendees.  1stSgst Richard Wilson of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Reserve Unit gave a testimonial about his experiences as a local Toys for Tots Coordinator.  Several national corporate sponsors were present to lend their support to the event and the 2000 campaign.  During 2000, fifty-nine national corporations were sponsor of Toys for Tots.

Marine and volunteers collected and distributed over 15,800,000 toys to over 6,300,000 needy children throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the American Samoa.  350 Toys for Tots Coordinators and thousands of volunteers, supported by million of caring Americans and hundreds of corporations nationwide, enabled the 2000 campaign to surpass all previous records.  The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation provided over 4,500,000 of the 15,800,000 toys distributed by local Toys for Tots Coordinators.

2001 The 2001 campaign began on October 1st, and was concluded on December 24th.  One of the highlights of the campaign was the National Kick-off Luncheon at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, in Alexandria, Virginia, on November 16th.  The Guest of Honor for this event was the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James L. Jones.  His remarks reminded all in attendance of the purpose of Toys for Tots and the importance of having such an endeavor as an integral part of the United Sates Marine Corps.

During the first week of December, special events were held for the children who lost a parent in the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC.  These events were coordinated by the local Toys for Tots Coordinator in each city and funded by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

Marines and volunteers collected and distributed over 13.2 million toys to 6.1 million needy children in all 50 states, the District of Columbia an Puerto Rico.  388 Toys for Tots Coordinators, supported by millions of caring American and hundreds of corporations nationwide, enabled the 2001 campaign to be another banner campaign.  The Foundation provided over 7,500,000 of the 13.2 million toys distributed by the local Toys for Toys Coordinators.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation moves to new office suite in the newly completed annex to the Marine Corps Association building aboard Marine Corps Base, Quantico, VA..

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation ranked #289 in “Philanthropy 400”.

2002 The 2002 Toys for Tots campaign was another banner campaign.  Local Toys for Tots Coordinators collected and distributed 12.9 million toys to 5.7 million needy children.  Local campaigns were conducted in 414 communities throughout the nation – the most extensive coverage to date.

This was the 11th year that Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has served as the fundraising and support organization for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.  The Foundation supplemented local campaigns with 4.1 million toys valued at 29 million.  The Foundation also provided local campaigns with 41 tons of promotion and support materials valued at more than $250,000.

Accolades given to the Foundation during 2002 included:

  • The Charity Navigator gave the Foundation a 4-Star rating
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked the Foundation #267 in the “Philanthropy 400”
  • An independent accounting firm rendered an unqualified opinion on the Foundation’s Audited Financial Statement and determined that the Foundation’s program to support expense ration was 92:8

History will record that 2002 was one of the more challenging years for charities due to the nationwide economic downturn and the looming possibility of war.  The fact that the 2002 Toys for Tots campaign was a success despite adversity is a tribute to the hard work and total team effort of the 414 local Toys for Tots Coordinators, the Marine Forces Reserve staff, the Marine Corps League and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation staff.

2003 The 2003 Toys for Tots campaign was another campaign that surpassed all previous records.  This monumental accomplishment is a tribute to the tireless work and dedication of the 456 local campaign Coordinators, the Marine Forces Reserve staff and the staff of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation as well as the outstanding support of a broad sector of corporate America and millions of caring Americans.  Local Toys for Tots Coordinators collected and distributed 15.1 million toys to 6.5 million needy children.  Local campaigns were conducted in 456 communities throughout the nation – once again, the most extensive coverage to date.

During 2003, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation supplemented local Toys for Tots campaigns with 6.9 million toys valued at $33.5 million.  The Foundation also provided local campaigns with 41 tons of promotional materials valued at $500,000.  The 2003 campaign was another banner campaign for the Foundation.

Country-western singer and TV star, Billy Ray Cyrus was the 2003 National Spokesman for Toys for Tots.  Billy Ray Cyrus joined General Michael W. Hagee, USMC, Commandant of the U. S. Marine Corps, as one the featured guests at the annual National Kick-off Luncheon in Alexandria, Virginia on November 21, 2003.

Accolades given to the Foundation during 2003 included:

  • Reader’s Digest named Marine Toys for Tots Foundation America’s “Best Children’s Charity”
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked the Foundation #341 in the “Philanthropy 400”
  • Forbes named Marine Toys for Tots Foundation one the Top 10 charities on the Forbes “Gold Star” list
  • DMA Non Profit Federation named Marine Toys for tots Foundation as the  “Outstanding Nonprofit Organization of the Year” for 2003
  • Starburst ranked the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation website #9 of the Top 100 Toys Websites in 2003
  • An independent accounting firm rendered an unqualified opinion on the Foundation’s Audited Financial Statement and determined that the Foundation’sprogram to support expense ration was 89:11

2004 The challenges facing U. S. Marines throughout the 2004 campaign included: the continuing worldwide war on terrorism, the continuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the mobilization of 35% of Marine Forces Reserve and the Presidential campaign which siphoned off a significant amount of America’s disposable income.  Despite these challenges, the 2004 Toys for Tots campaign was the most successful in history to this date.

First, local campaigns were conducted in 481 communities covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – the most extensive coverage to date.

Second, Marines distributed more than 19 million toys to 7.5 million needy children.  Again, this was a record campaign in terms of toys distributed and children reached.  Accordingly, the 2004 and 2005 campaigns are ranked as the two most successful campaigns in the history of Toys for Tots.

Third, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation had its most successful fundraising campaign in its 14 year history.  AS a result, the Foundation was able to supplement local collections with 8.8 million toys valued at $40.9 million.  The Foundation was ranked #316 in the 2004 “Philanthropy 400” and was designated one of the “Most Efficient” charities in Forbes magazine’s 2004 listing of 200 of the nation’s “Most Efficient and Most Inefficient Charities”.

Fourth, Toys for Tots enjoyed the most extensive national level visibility in history due in large part to the coverage afforded Toys for Tots by ABC TV and radio.

2005 The challenges facing U. S. Marines and Toys for Tots throughout the 2005 campaign included: the continuing worldwide war on terrorism, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the continued mobilization of 35% of Marine Forces Reserve and several worldwide disaster including a tsunami and earthquake in Asia and three major hurricanes in the United States that captured the attention and generosity of Americans with a profound desire to help those less fortunate both in the U. S. and overseas.  Donations to these causes reached record levels and Toys for Tots feared the worst.  Despite these challenges, the 2005 Toys for Tots campaign was one of the most successful in the history of the program.

First, local campaigns were conducted in 516 communities covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – an increase in coverage by 35 sites.

Second, Marines distributed more than 18.5 million toys to 7.5 million needy children.  While the number of toys distributed was down slightly from the previous campaign, the number of children assisted matched the 2004 campaign.

Third, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation had its most successful fundraising campaign in its 15 year history.  As a result, the Foundation was able to supplement local collections with 7.6 million toys valued at $56 million.  The Foundation was ranked #66 in the 2005 “Philanthropy 400” and Charity Navigator awarded the Foundation their highest 4-Star rating for sound fiscal management.

Fourth, Toys for Tots continued to enjoy national level visibility due to the coverage afforded Toys for Tots by NBC and ABC TV and local/regional radio broadcasts.

2006 Deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq continued for the U. S. Marine Corps and Marine Forces Reserve.  This continued mobilization of reserve units required that local Coordinators recruit more volunteers to provide additional assistance essential to the success of local campaigns.  Caring Americans and corporate America once again came through to make the 2006 campaign the most successful in the history of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

Local campaigns were conducted in 558 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – an increase of 42 sites.

Marines and volunteers distributed over 19.20 million toys to 7.6 million needy children.

The Foundation had a very successful fundraising year and was able to supplement local collections with 5.7 million toys valued at $43.4 million.

For the sixth consecutive year, The Foundation appeared in the “Philanthropy 400”.  The October 2006 Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Marine Toys for Tots Foundation at #59 – the best ranking achieved.  Charity Navigator again awarded the Foundation their highest   4-Star rating for sound fiscal management.

2007 The 60th anniversary of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program was greeted by another year of deployments to Southwest Asia by units of Marine Forces Reserve.  As in the past four campaigns, Marines needed additional assistance from local citizens to ensure the success of the campaign.  Member of local communities in which campaigns operate, volunteered time and donated toys and dollars to Toys for Tots.  Corporate donors provided much needed monetary donations to the campaign, and the combination of local citizens working with and corporations funding at a record level enabled Toys for Tots to enjoy one of the most successful campaigns in its 60 year of operation.

Local campaigns were conducted in 604 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – an increase of 46 sites from 2006.  Marines and volunteers distributed over 16.7 million toys to 7.5 million needy children.

The Foundation also had a very successful fundraising year and was able to supplement local collections with over 6.6 million toys valued at $63 million.  For the seventh consecutive year, the Foundation appeared in the “Philanthropy 400”.  The October 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Marine Toys for Tots Foundation at #66.  Charity Navigator again awarded the Foundation their highest 4-Star rating for sound fiscal management.

2008 Our 61st year began with changes.  On January 31st, after nearly fifteen years, LtGen Matthew T. Cooper, USMC (Ret) stepped aside as President & CEO.  The Board of Directors selected LtGen H. P. Osman, USMC (Ret) as his successor.  In March, the Foundation staff moved into their newly constructed headquarters just outside the main gate of Marine Corps Base, Quantico.  The new headquarters was dedicated by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James T. Conway, and was named the Cooper Center on March 28, 2009.  During the early summer months, corporate donations were at an all time high, and the staff was very optimistic about the upcoming campaign.  Early fall saw the economy collapse and the demand for toys escalate.  Nonetheless, the staff remained optimistic that support form the American public and our corporate sponsors would remain strong.  It did.  Marines continued to be deployed around the globe, and remain behind staff and volunteers persistently faced and overcame the many challenges associated with carrying out successful campaigns.

Local campaigns were conducted in 657 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – an increase of 53 sites from 2007.  Marines and volunteers distributed over 16.2 million toys to 7.6 million children – one of our best years.

The Foundation was able to supplement local collections with over 6.7 million toys valued at over $60 million.  For the eighth consecutive year, the Foundation appeared in the “Philanthropy 400”. The October 20087 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Marine Toys for Tots Foundation at #88.  Charity Navigator awarded the Foundation their highest 4-Star rating for sound fiscal management.

2009    The year began with concerns about the national economy and how it might affect the Toys for Tots campaign.  Donations across the board – corporate, gift in kind, local toys, and local dollars – were slightly higher than in 2008.  Challenges during the campaign included small staffs covering large geographical areas, the continued deployment of U.S. Marines around the globe, and battling the depressed economy.  Once again, the American public guaranteed the success of Toys for Tots.  When the campaign was concluded, 16.3 million toys had been distributed to over 7.4 million children. 

The Foundation supplemented local collections with over 7.7 million toys valued at over $60 million.  For the ninth consecutive year, the Foundation appeared in the Philanthropy 400.  The October 2009 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Marine Toys for Tots Foundation at #75.  Charity Navigator awarded the Foundation their highest 4-star rating for sound fiscal management.

2010    The national economy remained in the spotlight for much of the year.  Toys for Tots coordinators across the country expressed concerns about the potential impact on the campaign.  While corporate gift in kind donations were down,
corporate cash and individual donations increased significantly.  Deployments to the far corners of the world for our Marines have continued to provide a unique challenge to those remaining behind in local communities where Marine Reserve Units are located……..but the American public has steadfastly refused to let Toys for Tots fail.  Upon conclusion of the 2010 campaign, more than 16.7 million toys had been distributed to nearly 7.2 million children. 

The Foundation supplemented local collections with over 4 million toys valued at more then $47 million.  For the tenth consecutive year, the Foundation appeared in the Philanthropy 400.  The October issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Marine Toys for Tots Foundation at #72.  Charity Navigator again awarded the Foundation their highest 4-star rating for sound fiscal management.

2011  Despite the continued sluggish economy and a reduced materiel and manpower capability of the reserves, the 2011 campaign realized its greatest revenue ever at $252 million.  Corporate, individual support was superb; once again reinforcing the idea that the American public will not allow Toys for Tots to fail.  The Foundation continued to focus on the exposure of the Toys for Tots brand to the public via the NYSE Closing Bell ceremony, Blue Angels support, and the Hollywood Christmas Parade. 

2012  Despite the continued sluggish economy and a reduced materiel and manpower capability of the reserves, the 2012 campaign surpassed it’s previous year’s total revenue record of $252 million by realizing over $269 million in total revenue.  Corporate and individual support was superb; once again reinforcing the idea that the American public will not allow Toys for Tots to fail.  The Foundation continued to focus on the exposure of the Toys for Tots brand to the public via the NYSE Closing Bell ceremony, Blue Angels support,  and the Hollywood Christmas Parade.  Additionally for the 5th consecutive year the First Lady severed as Toys for Tots number one supporter by conducting a major media event and volunteering her time to sort toys in one of our local warehouses.  Chief Justice John Roberts also dedicated the Supreme Courts annual staff Christmas party to Toys for Tots. 

For the 11th consecutive year, the Foundation appeared in the Philanthropy 400.  The 0ctober issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy listed Marine Toys for Tots Foundation at #70.  Marine Toys for Tots continued to be designated an accredited charity by meeting all 20 Standards of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.

Upon conclusion of the 2012 campaign, Toys for Tots had distributed nearly 16.8 million toys to more than 7 million children.