Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR founds Toys for Tots in Los Angeles, California. 5,000 toys were collected and distributed to less fortunate children
during a campaign before Christmas 1947. The first toy was a handcrafted doll made by his wife, Diane.
The United States Marine Corps adopts Toys for Tots and expands it into a nationwide community action program and formally became
the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program.
Marines at each Reserve Center throughout the nation conduct toy collection and distribution campaigns in the communities surrounding the center.
Walt Disney designs the first national Toys for Tots poster which included the now famous Toys for Tots Train Logo.
These Christmas posters have become a recognized part of the annual program, and through the years have featured such notable characters as
Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Dennis the Menace, Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner.
Major celebrities begin to endorse the program. Over the years Toys for Tots Spokespersons have included
John Wayne, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, George Strait, Brooke Shields, Charlton Heston, Ann Margaret, Sammy Davis, Jr.,
Doris Day, Andy Griffith, Charlie Daniels, Clint Eastwood, Lorrie Morgan, Johnny Carson, Tim Allen, Kenny Rogers,
Joe Foss, John Glenn, Heather French Henry (Miss America 2000), and Billy Ray Cyrus.
First Ladies, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, served as National Toys for Tots Spokespersons.
Toys for Tots began in 1947 as the brain child of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. Actually it was his wife, Diane, who was the real inspiration.
She had a few handcrafted dolls and asked Bill to deliver them to an agency that supports children in need.
When Bill reported back to his wife that he could not find such an organization, she instructed him to “start one!”.
Maj Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in LA collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947.
Seeing such successful community engagement in 1947, the Commandant directed all Marine Reserve Sites to implement a
TFT campaign transforming it into a national community action program in 1948.
Bill Hendrick’s civilian job was Director of Public Relations at Warner Brothers Studios.
He was friends with many celebrities who he asked to help support the newly created Marine Toys for Tots Program.
As a personal friend and as a favor to Bill, Walt Disney designed the first Toys for Tots poster which included a miniature three-car
train that was subsequently adopted as the Toys for Tots logo.
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charity, was established in 1991 at
the behest of the Marine Corps to help run and support the Marine Toys for Tots Program.
The Foundation raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated,
solicits corporate support, educates the public, and handles day-to-day operations.
Presently, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually.
Connect with your local Marine Toys for Tots Campaign to donate and volunteer and help give the joy of Christmas to less-fortunate children.