The Marines are looking for a few good toys

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David Epps

Actually the Marines are looking for a whole lot of toys. Every year, in Coweta and Fayette counties, the Sgt. Clyde Thomason Medal of Honor Detachment of the Marine Corps League gets behind the Toys for Tots program in order to make sure that no child locally goes without a Christmas.

At businesses, organizations, and churches TFT boxes have been or are being placed to receive toys — thousands of toys. Perhaps even tens of thousands of toys. People are being encouraged to give at least one new, unwrapped toy or to give money for the purchase of toys. Last year, this meant that nearly 6,000 children, locally, received Christmas toys from this program.

People donate time, warehouse space, energy, and money to make all this happen. No one who works in the local Toys for Tots is paid. All the toys wind up in the hands of children and, if money is donated, all of it. All. Of. It. Goes toward the purchase of toys.

Toys for Tots performance and accomplishments include:

· Since 2001 ranked as one of the top rated charities by “Philanthropy 400.”

· Unmodified opinions on Audited Financial Statements (1994-2017).

· Average Program to Support Service expense ratio: (2000-2017) 97:3.

· Continues to meet all 20 standards established by the Better Business Bureau WiseGiving Alliance.

· Earned Charity Navigators (www.charitynavigator.org) Four Star Rating.

In other words, donors can be assured that the program is legit and does what it says it will do. While the Marine Corps League shepherds the program locally, volunteers from the community do a great deal to help make the program a success.

As reported on the national website, 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 crafted 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 he could not find such an organization, she instructed him to “Start one!” Major Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947.

Seeing such successful community engagement in 1947, the commandant of the Marine Corps 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.

With the ongoing wars in the Middle East, much of the manpower has been shifted from the Marine Corps Reserve to the Marine Corps League, composed of Marine and Navy FMF veterans.

Presently, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually. Locally, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff White, USMC (ret.) heads up the local effort for Fayette and Coweta and is putting untold hours into the endeavor. And this year, thanks to the generosity of caring people, children in Heard and Meriwether Counties will also receive toys.

So, when you see a TFT collection box in front of a Walmart or in a local establishment, help make a child’s Christmas. You will make a difference in their lives and you will earn the respect and appreciation of the Marines. And that can’t be a bad thing.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA between Newnan and Peachtree City (www.ctk.life). He is the bishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Diocese of the Mid-South which consists of Georgia and Tennessee. He is also the Commandant for the Sgt. Clyde Thomason Medal of Honor Detachment #1325 of the Marine Corps League. He may contacted at bishopdavidepps@gmail.com.