The annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is in full swing throughout the U.S. to bring joy to more families in need this holiday season.
Each year, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation relies on the generous donations of the American public and corporate partners to deliver gifts to needy children.
The Mohave County Toys for Tots program officially kicked off less than a month ago and the donation boxes have been distributed and are currently ready to receive new unwrapped toys that will be given to local needy children.
The Toys for Tots program began in 1947, through the efforts of Maj. Bill Hendricks, USMCR, who founded Toys for Tots in Los Angeles, California.
Because the program takes care of local needy children, Kingman Marine Corps League (MCL) Detachment #887 has been part of this tradition for more than 15 Years.
During 2016, Kingman MCL partnered with members of the 1St Marine Division Colorado River Chapter, to expand the program along the Colorado River communities.
According to Terry Flanagan, who serves as the commandant of Kingman’s MCL detachment and is also this year’s Toys for Tots program coordinator for Mohave County North, his team will be distributing toys to needy children in: Kingman; Golden Valley; Yucca; Dolan Springs; Chloride; Meadview; White Hills; Hackberry; Wikieup; the river communities from Bullhead City to Topock; and Needles, California and Laughlin, Nevada.
“We distribute toys to about 3,000 to 4,000 children each year in the northern Mohave County area,” Flanagan said. “Each child gets a minimum of two toys, so that is 6,000 to 8,000 toys we need for just our local needy children.
“All toys and cash donations collected in our area stays in our area,” Flanagan emphasized. “Everything collected here is distributed to local needy children and isn’t not sent to Phoenix, California or to Las Vegas.”
The Toys for Tots collection boxes will be out until Dec. 16 – 18 when they are picked up, and the toys will be available for pick up through Dec. 24.
This year’s registration is different from past years. It will be done online instead of via telephone. People who would like to register their children for toys need to go to the toysfortots.org and follow the online instructions. Toys for Tots officials say that if a person doesn’t own a computer, they recommend people check with a friend to see if they can use their computer or visit a local library to register online via their computers.
“We do not deliver the toys,” Flanagan said. “People who register will receive an email informing them their toys are ready to be picked up and where to go to receive them. Toys that are not picked up within one week after notification may be redistributed to other needy families.”
The immediate person having custody of the child or appointed guardian may register to receive toys for a child. Those individuals attempting to register multiple times with different names and multiple family members will be denied. All people will need proof of address listed in their registration and a photo ID when they pick up the toys.
MCL Detachment 757 will be handling toy collection and distribution in Lake Havasu City. People residing in the Lake Havasu City area can visit toysfortots.org and follow the online instructions to register their children.
People interested in helping sort toys or to help Flanagan pass them out for the Mohave County North can call 928-718-TOYS. Those wanting to help the Mohave County South West/Havasu MCL can call Ron White at 928-453-8105.
Since 1980, the Toys for Tots Native American Program (the original Los Angeles Reserve Unit that started Toys for Tots), has provided toys and books to Native American children living on reservations.
“Toys for Tots tries to provide toys to the entire reservations that we serve. In 2016, we distributed more than 185,000 toys to over 90,000 Native American children on the participating reservations in the Southwest,” said U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Peter C. Tagni, the coordinator for Toys for Tots Native American Program. “Overall, toys distributed through the Toys for Tots Native American Program were delivered by several Toys for Tots coordinators in all of the states covered by the program.”
The usual points of contact for the majority of the Native American reservations and for the actual toy distributions there are the police departments on the respective reservations.
If people residing on a particular reservation don’t know who to contact for toys, they can call their tribal police department or Lt. Col. Tagni at 949-364-5531.
Those interested in learning more about the chronological history of the Toys for Tots Program, can do so by visiting https://www.toysfortots.org/about_toys_for_tots/toys_for_tots_program/chronology.aspx.