OCEANSIDE, Calif. - When people think of Marines they might think of war, weapons, martial arts, artillery and all manner of combat-related elements. For one group of Marines, however, it was not war, but the holiday season that called them to action
The United States Marine Corps Reserve started the Toys for Tots program and collects new, unwrapped toys for children whose families need a little help over the holidays. The program was founded in 1947 by Maj. Bill Hendricks, USMC reserves, and has since assisted in providing more than 500 million toys for less fortunate children over the holidays.
This holiday season, Marines of 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force took part in the Toys for Tots program and collected more than 700 gifts, 600 bicycles, and more than $1,000 for children from various locations throughout Southern California.
“This means a lot to us,” says Sgt. Zachary Vinson, a bulk fuel specialist with 7th ESB and native of Caroline County, Virginia. “We’ve had Marines volunteering all this week to collect toys from Oceanside, Riverside, Orange County and around San Diego. We’ve also visited several businesses to help with donations.”
Collecting toys from individuals willing to give back is one thing, but the Marines of 7th ESB took it one step further. They helped local businesses donate and add to the cause.
“We recently went out to canvass businesses that we’ve reached out to over the past two weeks,” said Sgt. James Harris, a bulk fuel specialist with 7th ESB and native of Stillwater, Oklahoma. “We’ve collected generous donations and hundreds of toys from businesses all over the area.”
Toys for Tots doesn’t only have a positive impact on the children, it also affects the Marines taking part in it. Vinson says he is already looking forward to the opportunity to participate again next year.
“I would do this again at the drop of a hat,” said Vinson. “I loved volunteering for this event. Just the way everyone came together for this cause and to see how happy everybody was to donate makes this all worth it.”
Toys for Tots is a program that, since its inception, has been founded on helping those in need. This correlates with the core values of the Marine Corps in being committed to the community by helping those who may need a little help during the holiday season.
It is on this foundation of honor that Marines reach out to help the less fortunate and carry on the legacy of Marines like Maj. Bill Hendricks and the Toys for Tots program.