MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA --
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – Virginia Toys for Tots representatives recently launched an initiative to identify local Marine volunteers to help collect and sort toys for underprivileged children this holiday season.
With the organization’s headquarters located right outside Quantico’s front door in Triangle, Virginia, the Toys for Tots program is dedicated to making sure every child has a present to open Christmas morning.
The initiative coincides with the Marine Corps Reserve continuing its holiday tradition for the 86th year.
“We collect toys donated by the surrounding community from drop sites that are listed on our website,” explains Gunnery Sgt. Samuel Mendoza, Toys for Tots coordinator at the Fredericksburg, Virginia, warehouse. “Our volunteers are in charge of sorting the toys, and putting together orders for those non-profit organizations that are distributing the toys to local children in need.”
Marines can fill various volunteer roles depending on their schedule and preferences. Participating in local events on behalf of the organization is also an option. These events can include car shows and roller derby tournaments where Marines volunteers will wear their dress uniform to help collect toys and interact with the public. They can also donate their time at the Fredericksburg warehouse to help sort toys into different age groups, ensuring the right toys are distributed to the right kids.
“This program is 100% derived from volunteers,” says Sgt. Cody Schuck, a local Toys for Tots community events coordinator. “Our program relies heavily on the Marines and other branches to make this program a success. I have sent out Army members in their dress blues before, but there always has to be a Marine since we are a Marine program.”
U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Bill Hendricks started Toys for Tots in Los Angles, California, in 1947 when his wife, Diane, was unable to find an organization to accept a donated homemade doll. Hendricks, with the help of his fellow Marine Corps reservists, was able to collect 7,000 toys that year for needy children in the area. Since then, the organization has expanded exponentially, donating more than 652 million toys to 291 million grateful children.
Lance Cpl. Kyle Kuzan, an analyst with Marine Corps Intelligence Activity who volunteered to sort toys for the program, said being one of those grateful children himself, many years ago, is what inspired him to get involved.
“I’m here because my family had to use services like this in the past, so I figured I should come here and give back to a program that has helped me in the past to have a better Christmas,” said Kuzan.
Marines, or other service members in the Quantico area interested in volunteering, can visit quantico-va.toysfortots.org to find contact information for local Toys for Tots event coordinators.