You know what time it is, right? It's time to crack open those wallets and kick in a couple of bucks for one of my favorite organizations, the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys For Tots program.
Here's one of my favorite commercials of all time...
After seeing that, who wouldn't want to donate? Yeah, you in the back, I can see you trying to sneak out without anyone noticing. I've got my eye on you...
I kid of course. Donating should be voluntary, so let me retell, in part, a story I wrote about last year to help your hearts grow three sizes today:
In December 1994 I spent two days driving around Greensboro, N.C., in a Humvee, in my Dress Blues. My reserve unit was collecting toys from elementary schools and bank drop-off locations for the local Toys for Tots. The best pickups, I will say, were at the schools. Many of the kids donating the toys had given up a shot at a toy they wanted so their families could donate a new, unwrapped toy to a child who would otherwise have nothing.
Toys for Tots began modestly in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks, USMCR(eserve), and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to children. Since then, things have grown a bit. During the past 62 years of the Toys for Tots program, Marines have distributed more than 400 million toys to more than 188 million needy children.
Now that's a mighty big tree.
Continuing the memory ... [wavy finger motions] "Dododoloo, dododoloo, dododoloo..." Another cool part of the day I spent collecting was getting to unwrap about a hundred presents picked up from the banks. Despite the wonderful effort some folks went to to wrap up their donations, everything had to be unwrapped to make sure we weren't giving away any S&M Barbie dolls or live hand grenades. That wouldn't have been good. Moral of this story: Donate a toy, but don't wrap it up 'cause some Marine is just going to have fun tearing the paper off.
You can click these links for a list of drop-off locations in the District, NoVa or Maryland (for the last two, you'll have to select a county from the drop-down menu). Now, if you don't have time to go out, buy a toy and bring it unwrapped, (seriously, I'm not kidding) to a drop-off location you can still donate online to the Toys for Tots Foundation. According to its website, more than 96 percent of all donations go to buying toys, books and other gifts for kids, "The 4 percent spent on support principally covers fundraising expenses - not one donated dollar goes to pay for salaries or any other manpower costs."
Times are still tough for many of us this year, but I'm pretty sure anyone reading this can probably spare $25 to bring a smile to the face of a kid on Christmas morning. To put this in more concrete, understandable terms, $25 is way less than you'll pay for round at happy hour this week.
Christmas is just 10 days away, you don't want it to be your fault those kids didn't get anything from Santa, do you?