How Toys for Tots Works
The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is directed by the Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, with the assistance of his staff, from the Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity, is the authorized fundraising and support organization for the Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation provides the funding and support needed for successful annual toy collection and distribution campaigns.
Local campaigns are conducted annually in over 700 communities covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. One individual, either a Marine, member of a Marine Corps League Detachment, or member of a local community organization, is designated the Toys for Tots Coordinator for that community. The Coordinator is responsible for planning, organizing and conducting the campaign in his/her community.
Local toy collection campaigns begin in October and last until mid to late December. Toy distribution also takes place mid to late December. Members of the community drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes positioned in local businesses. Coordinators pick up these toys and store them in central warehouses where the toys are sorted by age and gender. At Christmas, Coordinators, with the assistance of local social welfare agencies, church groups, and other local community agencies, distribute the toys to the less fortunate children of the community. Over the years, Marines have established close working relationships with social welfare agencies, churches and other local community agencies which are well qualified to identify the needy children in the community and play important roles in the distribution of the toys.
While Toys for Tots Coordinators organize, coordinate and manage the campaign, the ultimate success depends on the support of the local community and the generosity of the people who donate toys.
Local business leaders play key roles. They allow Coordinators to locate drop-off/collection boxes in their stores; provide free warehouse space for storing and sorting toys during October, November and December; provide vehicles to collect toys from drop-off sites; sponsor toy raising events; and help Coordinators arrange media exposure for Toys for Tots in the local community.