The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness reports that more than 13,000 students were identified as being homeless in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties during the 2014-2015 school year. These students need stable housing and three balanced meals a day but getting their families back on track requires more than fulfilling these basic needs. It’s also about providing hope.
That’s where the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation comes in. This national nonprofit was founded by Marine Corps reservist, Major Bill Hendricks, in 1947. It is the fundraising, funding and support organization for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, which collects new, unwrapped toys to give as Christmas gifts to economically disadvantaged children.
Locally, the local Marine Toys for Tots team works day in and day out to make the Central Florida campaign a success, but it can’t be done without the help of the community. The team relies on residents, business leaders and local companies and organizations for assistance with hosting events for toy collection, allowing a business to be a drop-off location for donations, volunteering to sort toys and distributing toys to local children in need.
Donations for children ages 0-2 years old and 12 years old and up are needed, although Orange and Seminole County do allow for gift distribution to children as old as 15. Toys that contain weapons or are related to law enforcement aren’t permitted, as well as toys that include candy or chemicals. Used toys will not be distributed. Any toys that are donated to the Toys for Tots program that fit this description will be donated to another charity so they do not go to waste.
The main goal of Toys for Tots – both locally and nationally – is to deliver a message of hope to less fortunate children that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. And it is all done though a new toy at Christmas.
How You Can Help:
1. Arrange for your business to become a toy drop-off site.
2. Donate new, unwrapped toys by dropping them off at one of the local drop-off locations listed on the website or at the local Toys for Tots warehouse.
3. Volunteer with a local Toys for Tots warehouse.