Toys for Tots 'tees' off

8 Sep 2008 | Cpl. Jessica Aranda

The 2008 Marine Toys for Tots fundraising season kicked off with a golf tournament at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and Spa here Sept. 8.

During the tournament, approximately 120 golfers swung their clubs, driving in more than $50,000 for the campaign.

“It was a very successful day,” said Becca Andrews, a sponsor for the Toys for Tots Literacy program. “We had sponsors from all over the country come out in support, and this really was a successful start to the next three months of fundraising.”

According to the program’s Web site,, Toys for Tots has three main objectives: to help children experience the joy of Christmas, assist in childhood development and unite families and communities in a three-month campaign to better the future.

The Literacy Program is a new component of Marine Toys for Toys that works year-round to educate disadvantaged children by providing them with books and other educational resources.

Toys for Tots and the Literacy Program host an assortment of events including golf tournaments, races and collection drives to raise money and toys for children in surrounding areas.

“I strongly encourage all Marines and sailors to support these (Toys for Tots) events,” said Sgt. Gil Lopez, who has volunteered for the fundraising campaign for the past six years. “It is our duty as members of the armed forces to help our communities in anyway possible and it will bring a smile to your face knowing that you’ve made a difference.”

Toys for Tots was initiated in Los Angeles in 1947 when a group of Marine reservists in their dress blue uniforms collected and donated more than 5,000 toys to needy children on Christmas Eve. 

The attire and collection process became a tradition and the following year, the program expanded to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“Helping out sets the example when people see us (in our dress blues),” said Lopez. “It shows the communities that Marines care and creates traditions for future Marines to follow.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 12.8 million children live in poverty. Children in poverty are statistically characterized with low self esteem and little opportunities for the future. Drives like Marine Toys for Tots and the Literacy Program give these children hope and show their communities care.

To volunteer to help, donate toys or find up about upcoming events, visit or send a tax-deductible donation to Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, P.O. BOX 1947, Quantico, Va., 22134.