About Toys for Tots
The program began in 1947 when retired USMC Maj. Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected 5,000 toys and distributed them to needy children. The idea started with Hendricks’ wife, Diane, who made a Raggedy Ann doll and asked her husband to distribute it to an organization that provided needy children with toys. No type of agency existed, so she encouraged him to start one.
The pilot program was so successful that the USMC adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it to a nationwide campaign. From 1947 to 2007, Marines distributed more than 386 million toys to more than 177 million needy children.
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, the nonprofit public charity that provides fundraising and support for the program, has supplemented the collections of local campaigns with more than 74.8 million toys valued at more than $431.2 million. The foundation also has provided promotion and support materials valued at more than $4.7 million.