With Thanksgiving a week away, all eyes will be on the next big holiday on the horizon -Christmas. Every year, there are countless children unable to have the Christmas of their dreams. Central Texas servicemen and women are working together to help those Christmas dreams come true.

KWTX's Rhyan Henson reports that 18 Marines from the Reserve Center of Waco stopped by Walmart Thursday morning to kickstart this year's Toys for Tots campaign.

Local organizer for Toys for Tots, Pete Laeyva, said, "Last year across the United States, the Marines helped to provide over 50.000 children a Merry Christmas."

For information on how to get involved with Toys for Tots or how to request toys from the program for you family or someone in need, visit toysfortots.org.

 


According to United States Marine Corps records, Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks' wife, Diane, made a doll and asked her husband to deliver it to an organization that would donate it to a needy kid on Christmas. When he couldn't find such an organization, he started his own with fellow Marine Reservists, collecting 5,000 toys and distributing them to kids in the Los Angeles area.

The success of the toy drive caught the attention of the Marine Corps, who adopted and expanded the project in 1948. Hendricks' connections at Warner Bros. Studios helped secure celebrity endorsements for the toy drive, and the program continued to grow in popularity.

Toys for Tots now asks exclusively for new toys, but it's interesting to note that between 1947 and 1979, they would accept used toys, and Reserve Marines would spend drill weekends in October, November, and December refurbishing them.