KA Has Heart Spotlight: Toys for Tots
by Brenden Nickels, Senior Office Assistant at Kraus-Anderson
It’s always a happy experience over the Holiday season for a child to receive gifts from friends and family. However, not all children are able to experience this because of financial or economic strains on the family. Luckily, the Marines have found a way to help out each year and bring a little bit of holiday cheer back into children’s lives.
How Toys for Tots All Began
Journeying back to 1947 in Los Angeles, CA, Marine Reserve Bill Hendricks realized there was no place to donate toys for local children in need in his neighborhood. So, Bill started his own organization to do just that, thus launching Toys for Tots. With his connections to celebrities and public figures, such as Walt Disney himself, who actually designed the logo that is still used today, Hendricks was able to conjure vast support for his initiative. His first year was so successful the Marine Corps expanded his initiative into a nation-wide campaign. Their mission is to “provide a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas,” and I think they do just that!
Since 1947, the Toys for Tots program has given 584 million toys to 265 million children. There are around 800 local campaigns around the United States, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Each campaign has a coordinator (usually a current Marine or a member of a Marine Corps League Development) who is responsible for their chapter, collecting toys and distributing them throughout the community.
From October to December, local businesses agree to put a box for people to drop off any new toys to donate. The coordinator then picks up the toys and takes them to the warehouse for sorting. When Christmas comes, the coordinator, along with church groups, community members, and social welfare agencies, distribute the toys out to children who may need them.
Get involved with Toys for Tots
Kraus-Anderson has been partnered with Toys for Tots program for years. We have a drop-box where employees can donate new toys each holiday season. In addition, employees, as part of KA Has Heart, volunteer at the Toys for Tots warehouse in northeast Minneapolis.
I, myself, volunteered in 2019. When we arrived, there was a large pile of toys for us to sort. Our job was to sort them into different boxes for different ages and different genders. It looked a bit overwhelming but didn’t take long for me to get into a groove and sorting toys. Plus, they had great classic rock playing, so that helped, too.
“Working and meeting other KA’ers is always fun!” said KA Project Coordinator Jessica Pinke, who also volunteered for the first time in 2019. “Helping others really gets me in the Christmas spirit!”
The holiday season is all about giving and sharing. When you are involved with Toys for Tots, whether if it’s donating a new toy or a few, donating a few dollars to the cause, or volunteering your time, you are making a real difference in these children’s lives. Better yet, you might have just made their Christmases.
Project Engineer Josh Carr adds, “I feel like I am helping to give a young child a gift that could make their day, month, year, but hopefully, just make them feel special with a gift in the holiday season!”
Even through the pandemic, there are still many ways you can get involved. To see what the local needs and opportunities are visit the Toys for Tots website or Facebook page for updates.