View Full Version : Marines kick off annual Toys for Tots program

11-02-06, 09:00 AM
Marines kick off annual Toys for Tots program

Publish Date: 11/02/06

By Alison Walker-Baird
News-Post Staff

FREDERICK -- Participants in a local collaboration are hoping donations of individual toys and $1 bills will add up to happy holidays for thousands of children this year.

In a kickoff ceremony Wednesday morning, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program celebrated the beginning of a United Parcel Service campaign to help close the gap between the number of toys donated to the program and the number needed.

The money raised in UPS' Deliver Some Love campaign, which invites customers to donate $1 to Toys for Tots, will also help buy toys for children who are often overlooked in donations. The campaign began Wednesday and ends Dec. 23.

The Marine Corps program's local donation collection and distribution is being coordinated by U.S. Marine Sgt. Charles Dane, a member of the Fort Detrick-based Bravo Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Most members of the company deployed to Iraq on Oct. 11.

Sgt. Dane, in his first year as the area coordinator, said toys are most often donated for children up to age 13, while fewer toys are donated for children ages 13 to 17, especially girls in that age range.

The Toys for Tots donation season began Oct. 1. The Marine Corps Reserves started the program in 1947.

In 2005, Toys for Tots delivered 18.4 million toys, books and other gifts to 7.5 million children. Marine units and volunteer organizations collect and distribute toys in all 50 states, in nearly 540 communities.

The program is supported by The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, a nonprofit charity based in Quantico, Va.

"With the number of children living in low-income families continuing to rise, the need is greater than ever," Lt. Gen. Matthew Cooper, a retired Marine and the foundation's president and CEO, said in a press release. "We look at each toy as an opportunity to improve a child's outlook on life and increase his or her self-esteem."

Members of the public can drop off new, unwrapped toys to designated spots coordinated by the Marine unit.

The Marine Corps' drop-off sites are in Francis Scott Key Mall, Frederick Towne Mall and the Frederick Police Department's community services division at 615 N. Market St.

Members of the public may also drop off toys at any UPS store as part of the company's Deliver Some Love campaign.

Harry Price is a former Marine and franchise owner of The UPS Store in the Westview Plaza, where Wednesday's ceremony was held. He said the store will post paper ornaments near the register for each $1 donation made for Toys for Tots.

All proceeds will go to needy children in the community where the money was donated.

This is the first year the Westview store is participating, having opened in March, but Mr. Price said he was excited about helping meet the company's fundraising goal this year: $1 million. The Deliver Some Love Campaign raised $600,000 during the 2005 season.

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, less than a week before midterm elections, made the first donation to Deliver Some Love, emptying his wallet of dollar bills to put $4 toward the campaign.

He said if Toys for Tots fell short of the $1 million goal, he'd open his checkbook to make up the difference.

"I'm pleased these two groups have joined forces to make a good Christmas for a lot of kids who otherwise wouldn't have had one," he said.

UPS driver Neal Jerrell also presented Sgt. Dane with a $100 donation made on behalf of employees at the UPS delivery facility in Frederick.