Marine Corps reservist Major Bill Hendricks founded Toys for Tots in Los Angeles in 1947. About 5,000 toys were collected during that first campaign. Upon conclusion of the 2012 campaign, Toys for Tots had distributed nearly 16.8 million toys to more than 7 million children.
“(Hendricks) felt a need to start building trust, faith, love, patriotism and responsible citizens by giving children who are less fortunate a toy,” said Brian Crews, Toys for Tots coordinator for Angelina and Trinity counties. “The Marine’s wife would make Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, so that’s how this got started. We now have over 750 Toys for Tots organizers and programs across the country and Puerto Rico.”
Last year, 11,000 toys were delivered to about 2,300 children across Angelina County. Members of the Lufkin detachment of the Marine Corps League and their sponsors hope to surpass that this year, but they’re going to need some assistance filling up the five-ton troop carrier that will be visible around town.
During a kickoff reception on Friday at the former National Guard Armory in Lufkin, Crews explained how people can help.
“They can donate money or they can purchase a new unwrapped toy,” he said. “There are tons of drop-off locations around Lufkin. They can also volunteer their time and come to work some of the events. We set up around town on the weekends and during the week throughout the Toys for Tots season. People can drive by and drop off donations, but we need volunteers all the time.”
The toys can be geared toward children anywhere from newborn to 14 years old.
Donators can drop off toys at numerous locations around the county where a Toys for Tots poster and collection box is located, including all Angelina County real estate offices, all Lufkin title companies, Woodland Heights Medical Center, Commercial Bank of Texas, Regions Bank, Brookshire Brothers, all Dollar General stores, Perry-Ellis Kia, Al Meyer Ford, Southern Chrysler Jeep Dodge, all Loving automobile dealerships, Massingill Meat Market, Real Graphics, Tractor Supply Co., Verizon Wireless, Lyons LP Gas Inc. and Sassy Red’s Salon.
Angelina County residents have been generous in the past, Crews said.
“I’ve worked the Toys for Tots program for 15 years, and this is probably the most generous community I’ve ever seen,” Crews said. “All you do is get into a meeting and say this is what we’re doing to help children, and the rest does itself. People are really great around here.”
The program will continue until Dec. 15.
To request a toy, visit toysfortots.org. From the “Request a toy” tab, select Texas, then Angelina County from the drop-down menu. To learn more about donating and to view an updated list of drop box locations in the Angelina county area, visit toysfortots.org. From the search tab, select Texas, then Angelina County. To make a monetary donation, volunteer or for more information, contact Crews at 366-3013.
Steve Knight’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.