By: Duane Blankenship | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: December 2008
Toys For Tots Area Coordinator Ron Elliott displays a sampling of toys that will be used to make the holidays happier for Rogers and Mayes County children.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve began its Toys For Tots program in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea originated with Bill’s wife Diane, who in the fall of ’47 had handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver it to an organization that would give it to a child who was in need at Christmas. When Bill determined that no such agency existed, Diane suggested to Bill that he start one. The rest is history.
The mission of the Toys For Tots program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. Through the shiny new toys they distribute, Toys For Tots helps kids experience the joy of Christmas. They hope their acts send a message of hope and help motivate recipients to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders. Toys For Tots further hopes to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable natural resources – our children. They do so by uniting members of local communities during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign, which contributes to building better communities for the future.
Ron Elliott is a member of the Marine Corps League Sgt. Justin L. Noyes Det. 1294 of Claremore and is the area coordinator for the 2008 Rogers and Mayes County Toys For Tots campaign. “Individuals, corporations and local businesses contribute each year to the success of our local Toys For Tots effort,” says Elliott. Last year’s campaign distributed toys to more than 600 kids in Rogers County alone. “With the addition of Mayes County this year,” said Elliott, “we anticipate collecting and distributing toys to over 1,200 children.” It is Elliott’s goal to provide each child with more than just one toy. “Ideally, we would like to deliver at least two or three Christmas toys to each child. It all depends on how many toys we receive and the financial donations made that enable us to purchase additional toys.”
When making toy donations, keep in mind that they will be given to children from newborn to 18 years old. Toys will be distributed at the VFW in Claremore, 1717 W. Dupont St., on Friday, December 19 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, December 20 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 21 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. When families come to the VFW to make gift selections, volunteers will escort them to age-appropriate areas where the toys will be on display.
If you are interested in donating new toys to Toys For Tots, you may drop them off at area Wal-Mart, Dollar General, Walgreens and Toys “R” Us locations. You may also call (918) 341-5857 for additional drop-off points or to find out where to mail a check. All monetary donations to Toys For Tots are tax-deductible. Remember, only unwrapped, new toys will be accepted, and no toy weapons, such as guns or knives, will be accepted.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve has been active in collecting and distributing toys for children since 1947. Bob Hope, John Wayne, Doris Day, Tim Allen, Kenny Rogers, and First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush are but a few of the long list of celebrities who have given their time and talents to promote Toys For Tots. Perhaps you will find it in your heart to help make this holiday season a little merrier for a child through your donation.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.