By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service
Feb. 6, 2009 - Sixteen million new toys were distributed to 7.6 million children over the Christmas holiday through the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The program's aim is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to children in communities where campaigns are conducted.
The 2008 campaign took place in 657 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
"This was a very successful campaign," retired Marine Corps Maj. William J. Grein, vice president of marketing and development for the Toys for Tots Foundation, said. "We were very pleased with the outcome. We feel we touched a lot of needy families over the holidays."
The American people and the campaign's corporate sponsors are to be applauded for their compassion and generosity during tough economic times, he said.
"Toy donations were slightly down, but we did see an increase in cash contributions," Grein said. "This was a very interesting year. Our feelings were, maybe folks couldn't afford to buy a $20 toy, but still were willing to make a $10 or $15 donation."
Despite the economy, the campaign was successful because of outstanding efforts on the part of local Toys for Tots campaign coordinators, the Marine Forces Reserve and the staff of the Toys for Tots Foundation, campaign officials said.
"We are dealing with children that don't often understand the result of a bad economy," Grein said. "They just can't rationalize it. All they know, all they see is Christmas is a time when Santa comes and when good things happen. They want to be a part of that. As a parent, I would be crushed if I was not able to give a gift to my child at Christmas. This program brings hope and smiles to parents and children."