Defense Logistics Agency Energy employees donated more than 150 toys for the 2015 U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program during the DLA Energy commander’s holiday reception at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Dec. 19.
“This is a holiday tradition my wife Laura came up with several years ago,” said DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod. “We suggest people bring unwrapped toys in lieu of a hostess gift at our holiday parties.”
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation is a not-for-profit public charity located in Quantico, Virginia. Each year during October, November and December, Marine reservists and volunteers collect toys and donations to distribute Christmas gifts to children whose families cannot afford to buy them.
“This year we are looking to help 60,000 kids,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Andrew Eichelberger, the Northern Virginia Toys for Tots coordinator. “There are 1,200 Toys for Tots drop boxes spread throughout eight hub sites, from Washington, D.C., to Richmond. The toys are distributed to local nonprofit organizations across 15 counties in Northern Virginia.”
The DLA Energy toy contributions will support local children ages 1 through 14. In some areas, the age limit is extended to 14 or16.
“The biggest thing people need to know is that every toy counts,” Eichelberger said. “This year we’re looking at a collection of 120,000 toys. It can’t happen without support from the local community.”
Toys for all ages are welcomed. In the past, items purchased include sporting equipment, skateboards, helmets, backpacks, board games, and radio-controlled cars and trucks.
“The toys we need the most are for 11- to14-year-old girls,” Eichelberger said. “No one knows what to give them. We suggest bath and body sets, curling irons, hair straighteners, hair dryers, lip gloss and small purses for that age group.”
People can help the Toys for Tots campaign in several ways. A toy can be donated at one of the area toy drop locations, or you can host a Toys for Tots event or provide monetary donations. More toys come from holiday command parties than drop boxes, he noted.
“People ask how they can help besides giving toys,” Eichelberger said. “We accept donations year-round, [as well as] monetary contributions, storage space and food for volunteers during the holiday season.”
More than 97 percent of Toys for Tots donations go to providing toys, books and other gifts to children. Less than 3 percent is spent on fundraising and overhead. For more information, visit toysfortots.org.