The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign has been a popular tradition among schools, churches, businesses, and organizations across the United States for 71 years. The giving and charitable message of Toys for Tots has been adopted into schools as a way to get young students to practice giving and to help families out in their own communities. Lake Ridge has joined the Toys For Tots tradition, collecting an average of 30,000 toys each year, as well as winning the Toys for Tots competition between MISD schools every year.
Toys for Tots has distributed 548 million toys and given 251 million kids a Christmas to remember. The knowledge of how donating even one toy can help out those less fortunate and will help to support a child in need pushes many students at Lake to assist in the Toys for Tots message. Amelia Smith happily smiled at the warm thought of providing something memorable for a child. She remembers her own childhood memories and the nostalgic feelings they give her and hopes that she can help a child by giving them even the smallest of gifts.
“It makes me happy because I know, not so much anymore because we’re older and not as spirited, but I just remember waking up every morning and seeing all the presents under the tree. I’ve always had a giving heart so I feel really happy for them and that they get to feel that; because, I remember what it felt to be like ‘Oh my gosh!’, even if it’s just one toy. One time we were counting all the toys and someone said ‘who would want that?’ and I said, ‘a kid would want anything who can’t get anything,'” said Smith.
There are many other students who share the same sentiment as Smith. One of these students is Student Council representative Micah Peterson. Peterson is contented in the thought of helping those less fortunate than herself.
“It just makes me feel really great. And we’re not donating the toys to feel good about ourselves necessarily, we’re doing it to make those kids feel good, and make them feel like they’re also wanted, and make them feel like they’re also part of all the traditions that more fortunate people can celebrate. So I feel that it’s really amazing and I feel great that we’re allowed to do this for them,” stated Peterson.
Toys for Tots got its start in 1947 when United States Marin Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks was told by his wife to donate toys she had made to some organization in their community. To the surprise of the Hendricks family, they found none. So, Major Bill Hendricks started Toys for Tots. Using his civilian job at the Warner Bros Studio to his advantage, he gained the support of many actors and celebrities such as Walt Disney who designed the first Toys For Tots campaign poster. Slowly, the organization grew across the United States, helping give toys to children in need.
Lake Ridge Ridge donates a large number of toys ranging from 20,00 to over 50,000 yearly, most of which are donated by the student body. Students bring in these toys to their classes which are then brought down to Student Council to be sorted and given to Toys for Tots representatives in the area. Toy and monetary donations are raised with help from school events such as the Toys for Tots basketball game held last Thursday the 29th. The basketball game between Lake Ridge and Midlothian was an opportunity for students to leave their second block classes and enjoy extracurricular activities during the school day. It was held with the goal to raise more donations of toys for tots; students could attend the game as long as they donated a toy or one dollar to the cause. Student Council President, Billy Williams, believes that the Toys for Tots basketball game was a good campaign strategy to persuade students to donate to Toys for Tots.
“I think it’s a really good way to promote the organization and to promote all the generosity within the community,” stated Williams.
Because Toys for Tots begins each year in October and ends at the beginning of December, there are still some opportunities to help out in the Toys for Tots campaign if one desires. Donations initiated by Lake Ridge ended Monday the 3rd, but MISD is still celebrating and giving more to Toys for Tots. Festivities continue on December 5th, with MISD’s Seventh Annual Toys for Tots Drive held at the MISD Performing Arts Center. MISD will be accepting more donations from those who attend and will be celebrating with special events such as student performances, games, crafts, train rides, and more. Though Toys for Tots has helped millions of children in need, they are still looking for even more donations in order to help as many families as possible during the holiday season. Even if it is not possible to make a toy or monetary donation, spreading the message of Toys for Tots around the community, or attending events such as those held at the Performing Arts Center, can help give back to our country and our community.