Saturday, September 16, 2006

My favorite charity: TOYS 4 TOTS

(About a decade ago, I was looking for a charity to do work for. I figured, hell -- I've lived this long, someone must be watching over me -- so it won't hurt to give a little something back. When I looked at a bunch of different charities, I was shocked at how many are actually semi-bogus. In many cases, when you give $$ or time to a charity, it never even gets to the people who are supposed to be the ones that are in need. The majority of the $$ goes to the people who run the charity. That's why I chose to work for Toys 4 Tots. When you give a toy to T4Ts, it goes to a child, no if's, and's or but's. Awhile back I did a brochure for the Santa Clara County T4Ts. Here it is.)

Santa Clara County Toys 4 Tots

Once you see the look in their eyes, you know. An unexpected toy during the holidays is just what’s needed to make any child’s Christmas a holiday to remember.

Do you think that the people who first started Toys for Tots in 1947 had any idea the organization would grow and flourish to become what it is today?
The founders of Toys for Tots can be proud and satisfied in knowing the groundwork they laid over 53 years ago is still in place and that the program is stronger than ever!

During the program’s first year, over 5,000 toys were collected and distributed to needy kids throughout the Los Angeles area. In just over a half-century, the Toys for Tots program has grown to include over 360 Marine Corps sites all over the U.S., with more than 120 million toys collected and distributed over the years, including approximately 120 million toys last year alone.

In 2006, the San Jose Marines, in conjunction with the Santa Clara County Toys for Tots Committee, conducted another incredibly successful campaign. More than 130,000 new toys were collected and distributed to 134-plus individual charitable groups throughout the county and its surrounding areas.

This unprecedented accomplishment is the result of one full year of teamwork between the San Jose Marines, dedicated volunteers, local businesses, labor unions and a wide range of organizations that share the Tots for Tots’ belief that every single child in this country, regardless of race, color creed or religious beliefs, deserves the joy that a toy brings during the holiday season.

Community and corporate support for Toys for Tots in 2000 was unmatched, ranging from record toy numbers and generous monetary donations – to the unparalleled media coverage and the donation of warehouse facilities.

What You Can Do to Make a Difference

Getting involved in Toys for Tots is an ideal way to bring joy to the children of Santa Clara County and its outlying areas. The importance of corporate sponsorships and media support is vital to the success of this holiday charity program. Local individuals can make a major impact on the program’s efforts, but to really succeed, sponsorships from highly regarded businesses and corporations are essential. It’s a winning situation for everyone – your fine reputation helps enhance Toys for Tots’ presence in the community – and identifies your organization as one that is committed to doing something meaningful and positive for disadvantaged children and families throughout Santa Clara County.

In exchange for the recognition you’ll receive and the good will you’ll create by teaming up with Toys for Tots, businesses and corporations can make a difference by:

Monetary Donations

All cash donations are earmarked exclusively for buying toys from local retailers for direct distribution to the local community. As a government non-profit organization, the Marines have increased purchasing power as a result of their tax-exempt status. Local merchants also provide the program with substantial discounts on any toys we buy from them.

Providing Sponsorship for Specific Toys for Tots Events, including:

San Jose Holiday Parade

San Jose’s very own parade is a success every year, with a total viewing audience of over 50,000. Local radio celebrities ride the Toys for Tots float alongside the Marines and various committee members. The entire event is televised every year on KNTV, Channel 11.

Stuff the Bus

Formerly known as the Super Saturday Toy Collection, Stuff the Bus is an all-day ‘drive-through’ toy collection event that takes place at Downtown San Jose’s Christmas in the Park. It’s amazing and inspiring to see a Valley Transit Authority bus as it is filled to the brim with new toys. This year, KNTV/KBWB and KBAY will be on hand for the event -- greeting people, collecting toys and signing autographs. Corporate sponsors can get involved by providing giveaways to toy donors and by displaying their logos on the outside of the VTA bus.

Donating New Unwrapped Toys

As the Marines would say, our primary objective is to collect and distribute toys. Arranging a toy collection program within your business or corporation makes you a partner in this mission, and is a great way for you to help us reach our goals.

Providing Toy Drop-off Locations

Setting up toy collection boxes at your workplace gives Toys for Tots added visibility inside your business or corporation. These familiar drop-off boxes are a convenient and fast way for your company’s employees, customers and associates to donate toys. It also shows that you’re committed to helping the community and are aligned with one of the finest children’s charities in the world. To participate, all you have to do is holiday wrap a large box and decorate it with this year’s Toys for Tots poster. When your box or barrel is ready to be picked up, call (408) 286-6501.

Collecting Toys

Collecting toys at holiday parties or organizing a group caravan to drop-off toys collected at a specific Toys for Tots event is a great way to help, too!

And there’s more…

Uniformed Marines may be available to attend corporate events, meetings or social gatherings to support and represent your Toys for Tots efforts. This is their opportunity to thank you personally for your generous donations. The San Jose Marines will also be happy to make a brief presentation explaining the Toys for Tots program to your employees and associates.

If you ever need more details about the Toys for Tots program, please do not hesitate to call either myself, the San Jose Marines or any Toys for Tots Committee member.

We will continue to thrive and grow with your support. Everyone on the Santa Clara County Toys for Tots program is looking forward to working with you during this holiday season.

Sylvia Manker
Chairman, SCC Toys for Tots Committee

In 1868, Brigadier General Jacob Zeilen, the 7th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, approved the Eagle, Globe and Anchor as the official emblem of the Marines. The emblem consisted of an American Eagle with wings spread, standing majestically on the Western Hemisphere of the terrestrial globe. In the Eagle’s beak there is a scroll, inscribed with the words “Semper Fidelis”, which means “Always Faithful.” The hemisphere is superimposed on an anchor to make the emblem complete.

In 1954, General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps, modified the emblem by “fouling” the anchor with a length of rope.

The U.S. Marine Corps has been involved in helping provide toys to children in need during the holiday season for over 50 years.

The three signature symbols of the Toys for Tots program are:

A Raggedy Ann Doll, the very first Toys for Tots toy donated.

The three-train Toys for Tots logo, designed by Walt Disney in 1948.

A Marine attired in dress blue uniform.

Secretary of War James McHenry first authorized the famous Marine Corps blue uniform on August 24, 1797. This highly distinctive uniform incorporates many traditions of the Marine Corps. Navy blue was selected because it is an inconspicuous color of the ocean and is employed generally by the naval forces of all countries. The pattern and trimmings of red and gold were selected to make the uniform unique. Although the red edging or piping on the coat was used primarily for decoration purposes, it should also be noted that John Paul Jones dressed his Marines in red uniforms. The early organization, duties and regulations of the American Marines were patterned after the ways and customers of their forerunners – the British Marines. Although the Marines today wear a variety of uniforms for different occasions, activities and events, the traditional dress blue uniform remains the uniform that truly sets the Marines apart from all others.

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