MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
The Toys for Tots annual gift-giving program kicks off its campaign aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and across Onslow County, Nov. 1.
The program began when Maj. Bill Hendricks and the Marines under his command wanted to give to less fortunate children during Christmas. Hendricks and his Marines collected more than 5,000 used toys during 1947, the first year of the campaign.
Since its inception, Toys for Tots provided more than 216 million children with more than 469 million toys. Onslow County’s goal this year is 13,000 toys.
In 1980, the Toys for Tots program no longer accepted used toys. In 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved the program as an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve.
The new toys collected are redistributed within each county to ensure they are kept within the local community, said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Patterson, Toys for Tots representative for seven Eastern North Carolina counties.
“The program is designed for the children to have something to open on Christmas,” said Patterson. “If the family is struggling financially or lost their jobs, we help them with toys, and our homeless and foster children are not forgotten either.”
It is important for Marines to be part of the community in which they live, said retired Maj. Brian Murray, the Toys for Tots foundation vice president of operations. Donating money or toys can make the holiday season for children a very happy time.
“Toys for Tots brings the community together for about three months every year to help less fortunate families,” said Murray. “While we are helping parents give a new gift to their child or children at Christmas, we are also giving a gift of hope for the future.”
Murray added the goal of Toys for Tots is to reach as many children as possible each year, and with 760 campaign sites nationally for 2013, their goal is to reach more than 7 million children this year.
The local program is scheduled to end Dec. 16. Units aboard base will have their own collection sites. The main exchange will have a drop box, as well as areas in the community.
For more information about the Toys for Tots program or to find a local drop site, visit www.toysfortots.org. Families can contact the Onslow County Christmas Cheer program at 347-4646 to get an application to receive toys.
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