Toys for Tots and Good360 brought Christmas joy to children across the United States a bit earlier this year. COVID-19 has caused tremendous upheaval and distress these past few months for many families across the nation; jobs were lost, the economy turned upside down, and children were taken out of school. Our Marines learn to adapt and overcome obstacles to better serve our country, and Toys for Tots wanted to follow suit. “This is the first time we [Toys for Tots] have done something of this magnitude beyond Christmas,” said LtGen Jim Laster, President and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
Marine Toys for Tots is committed to being here for every family that has fallen on difficult times. This toy shipment and distribution was a combined effort – it takes teamwork to make things possible. Our warehouse partner, Group Sales, was instrumental in providing the logistics behind the shipment of 2 million toys stored in their warehouse. Preparing the toys for shipment included building and loading 35 truckloads of toys for all age groups. Group Sales donated their warehouse space, their staff and labor, and even donated the shipping costs for this massive effort. These toys were then shipped to Good360 to be distributed through their network of vetted nonprofits across the country. “This partnership gave both Good360 and Toys for Tots the opportunity to increase the scope and breadth of our network,” said LtGen Laster in an interview with Good360’s Chief Executive Officer, Matt Connelly.
The two million toys, books, and games that Toys for Tots provided were sent to over 200 of Good360’s nonprofit partner organizations across 36 states. Nonprofits that received these toys included Regional United Ways, Boys and Girls Clubs, YWCAs, Girl Scouts, Local Parent Teacher Associations, cancer-related organizations, National nonprofits, and general community-based organizations that serve families and children. Chief Executive Officer of Good360, Matt Connelly, spoke about the distribution processes stating that, “Good360 tried to get the best geographic footprint as possible for the distribution of toys and leverage what we call our Community Distribution Partners (CDPs). CDPs are larger nonprofits that can handle full truckloads of goods, to distribute the toys to their network, which includes other nonprofits.”
KOLD News 13 reported that one of the first locations to receive donated toys was a community warehouse for Gap Ministries in Tucson, AZ. The goal of the volunteers working this distribution was to get 4,000 toys to children in Southern Arizona’s foster care system by the end of April. The volunteers were hopeful “that these toys, books, and games would combat boredom, relieve anxiety, help create a sense of normalcy, and act as an educational resource.” A foster parent stated, “For our workers to be able to come and get these toys, to go shopping specifically for our families and bring the things that are going to make our kids happy, it makes us feel like we’re not forgotten. We feel loved and appreciated.”
Toys for Tots has been asked many questions regarding our response to COVID-19 and families affected by the pandemic. The question asked most frequently has been, “How was Toys for Tots able to distribute 2 million toys now?” LtGen Laster answered that question in a Fox 4 News interview, “We decided to take our current inventory that we were saving for this Christmas and distribute them to less fortunate children to lessen the anxiety, give them hope and bring a smile to their face during this crisis.” As we look forward to our Christmas season, we know that more families than ever will need our support, possibly in areas that don’t have a campaign coordinator. “There may still be a lot of work to do here with Good360 this Christmas,” said LtGen Laster, “there is hope to continue our partnership with Good360 so we can get individuals connected with other nonprofits in areas that aren’t covered.” This partnership generated greater impact. Together, we were able to “do more good” and spread some early Christmas cheer.
Check out the full interviews below:
Toys for Tots and Good360 interview
KOLD 13 News interview