MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Toys for Tots needs holiday gifts for less fortunate children

It all began 75 years ago when a simple act of kindness turned into a nationwide children’s charity and much more. The idea of the Toys for Tots Program began in 1947 when the wife of Marine Corps Reserve Maj. Bill Hendricks asked her husband to deliver a few handcrafted dolls to an agency that supported children in need.

When Maj. Hendricks was unable to locate such an agency, Diane Hendricks encouraged her husband to start one. That first year, Marines in his Reserve unit collected over 5,000 toys and delivered them to children in need around Los Angeles.

Seeing the impact those deliveries made in the community, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Clifton B. Cates directed all Marine Corps Reserve units to implement a national Toys for Tots campaign in 1948. For over seven decades, the program has evolved and has served over 281 million less fortunate children.

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Now, marking its 75th year, the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program also provides support year-round to disadvantaged children experiencing challenges and exceptional circumstances. Since 2008, Toys for Tots has distributed over 47 million children’s books.

In 2021, Toys for Tots distributed a record 22.4 million toys to nearly 8.8 million youngsters. Since the program’s inception it has distributed 627 million toys to over 281 million children.

“Every child deserves a little Christmas and for 75 years that’s been the holiday battle cry of the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program,” says Master Sgt. Luis Duran, who coordinates the project for Montgomery and Greene Counties. " We’re asking your readers to help the Marines make the Christmas dreams of a less fortunate child come true. You’ll be amazed at how much good we can make when we all come together. "

A major supporter

One of the major sponsors for Toys for Tots in our area is Jack Stump of Xenia who each year hosts a “Driven to Make a Difference” event.

“Ten years ago a few business owners who enjoyed summertime car shows decided we’d like to see each other in the winter as well,” says Stump. “We decided to have a car meet and since we’re all big fans of Toys for Tots, we all brought toys.”

That annual get-together is now responsible for collecting tens of thousands of toys which are distributed to three different Toys for Tots counties which cover Montgomery, Greene, Butler and Warren counties and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. “We had 110 boxes last year and donated 600 scooters,” says Stump.”People bring toys to the event and we also collect money and use our own personal money to make bulk purchases.”

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Stump says people usually donate items for children ages newborn to five, but asks us to remember the project serves older children and teens as well.

“I’m there through the whole process,” says Stump. “It’s amazing, almost emotionally overwhelming at times when we deliver the toys to the parents.” This year’s “Driven to Make a Difference” car meet will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Horsepower Farm, 2227 Trinity Drive, Middletown.

Here are some of the most requested toys. Remember that toys must be unwrapped so they can be sorted by age and gender.

  • Lego sets
  • Jewelry kits
  • Makeup kits
  • Educational games and board games
  • Books
  • Headphones
  • Scooters
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Tablets
  • Sporting equipment/bags/balls; books,
  • Backpacks
  • Cosmetics,
  • Purses
  • Watch/wallet gift sets
  • Bath gift sets
  • Radio control cars/trucks,
  • Hand-held electronics,
  • Skateboards/helmets
  • Curling irons, hair straighteners, and hair dryers.

Toys for Tots prefers not to accept realistic looking weapons and gifts with food. If donated, such items will NOT be distributed.

Among the Dayton area drop-off locations are: AAA locations (Dayton North, Dayton South, Huber Heights and Beavercreek); Jeff Schmitt car dealerships; The Mall at Fairfield Commons, Cold Stone Creamery, 1503 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Centerville; Ollies Bargain Outlet Store, 221 Springboro Pike, Dayton; and Stonehurst Lights, 7411 Stonehurst Dr., Dayton.

More drop sites can be found at:

To make a monetary donation visit


Meredith Moss writes about Dayton-area nonprofit organizations and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith:

Please include a daytime phone number and a photo that reflects your group’s mission.

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