Children are one of our nation’s most valuable resources. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders – civic, business and social. Alarmingly, approximately 15 million America children live in poverty. Studies reveal that growing up in poverty can have an adverse psychological impact on a child. One of the adverse impacts is low self-esteem – a by-product of little or no hope for the future.

Each child has a choice of two paths to the future. One path leads to a productive life as an asset to the community. The other path leads to a life of dependency on the community for support. Without outside help, the path of least resistance is too often the path to a life of dependency.

The critical social issue is the identification and pursuit of programs, which will create or raise the self-esteem of children, give them hope for the future and help steer them toward productive lives. One of the best means of dealing with these three poverty by-products is through mentoring programs. Since it is not possible for all children who live in poverty situations to have the benefit of mentoring programs, alternative means of doing the job must be pursued. Fortunately, alternative programs exist. Toys for Tots is one such alternative. It is a unique passive mentoring program that provides a ray of hope for the future.

The new toy which millions of needy children receive each Christmas from Marines, through the Toys for Tots Program, delivers a message of hope. By being excellent role models and setting an example for others to emulate, Marines, through Toys for Tots, perform passive mentoring. Economically disadvantaged children who receive toys through the Toys for Tots program have an opportunity to observe first hand how young men and women, just like themselves, have achieved success. Youngsters readily recognize that Marines achieve their success through adherence to the highest standards of discipline, grooming, patriotism, physical fitness and moral character.

The fact that Marines are trained for combat and are prepared to face nearly unendurable hardships is not lost on needy children. Nor is the fact lost that these same combat trained Marines find time to be compassionate for the less fortunate members of America’s society. Even more importantly, children are impressed by the willingness of Marines to work overtime to do something for them. Marines set an example for youngsters to strive to emulate.

Experts, who are knowledgeable of Toys for Tots, conclude that Toys for Tots has the potential to have the requisite positive influence on the development of needy youngsters. Concurrently, actual accounts from individuals reveal that Toys for Tots has motivated youngsters to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.

It is important to point out that U. S. Marines continually improve the Toys for Tots program. For example, from 1947 through 1979, Marines distributed new and used toys at Christmas. Since Christmas 1980, Marines have distributed only new toys. One of the principal reasons for the change was that delivering a “hand-me-down” toy sent the wrong message. A second hand toy gives a youngster the impression that he or she is a “second-class” citizen, worthy only of someone’s cast-off toys. Marines want to create and enhance self-esteem and deliver a message of hope. This can only come in the form of a new toy.

Personal Reflection

If you reflect on your own life and recall what it meant to receive a toy at Christmas, you cannot help but realize the positive impact that a new toy had on your life. Concurrently, you can imagine how devastating it would have been to receive nothing while all your friends received a new toy. Many may recall when a neighbor received nothing at Christmas because his or her family was experiencing hard times. It is painful to think about the impact a Christmas without a toy had on the child and how adversely it impacted on his or her self-esteem and future. Some never recovered and ultimately never realized their potential.

Each American’s Challenge

Just as each needy child has a choice of two paths to the future, each American has a choice: leave the responsibility of helping needy children to someone else; or take action to enhance the development and proper steering of American’s needy children. Most American adults want to make a difference. The problem is how to help, given the hectic pace of the lifestyle of the 2000’s. Toys for Tots offers a simple solution for even the busiest American, because it:

  • Provides a ray of hope for the future,
  • Is a passive mentoring program,
  • Has a positive influence on our nation’s neediest youngsters,
  • Has motivated youngsters to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders,
  • Is a way busy Americans can play a positive role in enhancing the development of needy youngsters,
  • Has a positive impact on communities and on the economic posture of businesses, large and small, throughout the nation. The bottom line is that Toys for Tots makes a difference!

Summary /Conclusion

Toys for Tots is the Marine Corps’ premier community action program,, one of the nation’s flagship charitable endeavors, an American tradition and a national treasure.  For over half a century, Marines have been the unchallenged leaders in looking after needy children at Christmas.  The Toys for Tots message of hope for the future has motivated youngsters to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.  Toys for Tots not only benefits children, but also has a positive impact on communities, on businesses – large and small, on the Marine Corps and on the nation.  Toys for Tots is one vehicle for addressing the issue of poverty among children.

Call To Action

According to child psychologists, mentoring is the most effective means of making a positive impact on the development of children. However, today’s overtaxed mentoring projects are able to reach only a small percentage of the millions of needy children. We must, therefore, pursue alternatives to build/restore self-esteem among needy children, and give them hope for the future. Moreover, since children imitate the actions of their elders, children should be exposed to positive role models. Americans from every walk of life can join the Toys for Tots team and be an active participant in the development of our children. The challenge: be a participator, not a spectator. Do your part to assist in the development of today’s children. You will be helping children, your community and your nation. Your action today will help produce productive citizens for tomorrow. Help us “make a difference”.

Actions For Toys For Tots Supporters

  • Donate a toy to your community’s Toys for Tots Campaign
  • Donate your time to assist your community’s Toys for Tots Campaign
  • Donate service support to your community’s Toys for Tots Campaign
  • Allow Marines to place a toy collection box at your company/business
  • Allow Marines to use an empty warehouse to store and sort toys
  • Allow Marines to use a vehicle to collect toys throughout your community
  • Make a tax deductible donation to Toys for Tots
    • Mail donation to:
      Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
      The Cooper Center
      18251 Quantico Gateway Drive
      Triangle, VA 22172-1776
  • Donate online at:
  • Donate via CFC: CFC #10400
  • Be a role model for children in your community (i.e. passive mentor)
  • Be a model citizen and model adult
  • Be a person of integrity, honesty and the highest moral character
  • Demonstrate immaculate personal appearance
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude
  • Demonstrate respect and concern for others and their property
  • Demonstrate a caring attitude towards others
  • Help others at every opportunity

Click here for the Call to Action Brochure (PDF document)