The Marine Corps Toys for Tots’ program will continue to spread their message of hope, one ingrained in the organization since 1947, this weekend at the Sebring International Raceway.
CREVENTIC is pleased to be a charity partner once again with Toys for Tots for the inaugural Hankook 24H SEBRING.
The partnership, which began on CREVENTIC’s last visit to North America in 2019, will promote the Toys for Tots’ drive to collect new unwrapped toys and distribute them to less fortunate children at Christmas. Fundraising will continue in the paddock at the Sebring International Raceway throughout the 18-19-20 November weekend, with all donations gratefully received.
“The Toys for Tots’ mission goal is one of great importance to children all across America, and represents a message of hope that continues to be shared worldwide every single year,” explains sporting coordinator Ole Dörlemann. “We are extremely proud that the 24H SERIES can help further this cause this weekend on its return to North America.”
This weekend, alongside the Toys for Tots’ stand in the Sebring International Raceway paddock, the US Marine Corps will be represented on the Hankook 24H SEBRING starting grid.
“Toys for Tots is a non-profit charity that’s run by the marines,” explains Staff Sergeant Jacques of the Marine Toys for Tots, Florida. “We collect toys for needy children, people sign up for government assistance that need help to get toys for their kids at Christmas, we go out there, we collect toys, we register the people , sort the toys, bag the toys, and then distribute the toys before Christmas.
“Highland County has never had Toys for Toys before. Even county is a different Toys of Tots program, so in San Antonio for example, they’ve had a Toys for Tots program for probably 40+ years. Highland County, it’s brand-new this year. So have this support is very good. Any kind of partnerships we can become involved with is a great way to promote this cause.”
Toys for Tots was established in 1947 by Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks and his wife Diane, the latter of whom supplied the first handcrafted doll to the program. Indeed, when informed that there were no local agencies supporting children in need, Diane even beckoned her husband to “start one!”
Support for the newly-created ‘Marine Toys for Tots Program’ came thick and fast, with 5,000 toys being collected by local Marine reservists in Los Angeles, California, for distribution during Christmas, 1947. Following the success of the inaugural project, one year later, Toys for Tots – renamed the ‘U. S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program’ – was introduced nationwide.
The community action was aided yet further by Hendrick’s civilian job as Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Studios: the original campaign poster, complete with the train logo the program has adopted ever since, was even created by Walt Disney! Alongside an increasing number of celebrity endorsements and spokespeople, Oscar-winning songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Webster created the Toys for Tots theme in 1956.
In 1959, the program went international for the first of three occasions thus far when ‘Typhoon Vera’ devastated Nagoya city in Japan (the second and third occasions came 29 and 30 years later after the attempted coup in the Republic of Panama and Hurricane Hugo’s impact on the Caribbean respectively). With an average of six million toys being annually collected and distributed during the 1970s – that figure has since risen to an average of 18 million – the decision was made in 1980 that the program would include only brand-new toys moving forward. By 1991, three years after the passing of Diane Hendricks’, the foundation she inspired received official support from the Marine Corps following authorization by the US Secretary of Defense. A relationship that continues to this day.
Headquartered just outside the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Toys for Tots today conducts local campaigns across more than 800 communities in all 50 states from early October to mid-December, with toy distribution undertaken shortly thereafter. Of the total donations received, 97 per cent goes directly towards providing toys, books, and other gifts to less fortunate children, while the remaining three per cent covers fundraising expenses.
At the height of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, Toys for Tots distributed over two million toys, books and games to families impacted by the pandemic before beginning the collection all over again for Christmas. Incredibly, through the Toys for Tots program, a record 20.2 million toys were delivered to 7.4 million children in 2020, almost two million more than the previous year.
For further details on the Toys for Tots foundation, and to learn how you too can get involved, visit toysfortots.org.