LIHU‘E — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Marine Corps League to adjust its annual Toys For Tots campaign for this year, said Capt. Rod Green of the Kaua‘i Police Department, commander of the Marine Corps League on Kaua‘i.
“We won’t be able to be at the entrance to the Walmart store because of their corporate policy,” Green said. “Instead, we’ll have to move the Toys For Tots train to the Kaua‘i Veterans Center on Veterans Memorial Highway in Lihu‘e. People can also drop off new toys to any of the Kaua‘i fire stations.”
Green said people are able to drop off new toys to the Kaua‘i Veterans Center starting Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.
“Hopefully, we can decorate the jet with lights,” Green said. “The final drop should be on Dec. 21 to give us time to coordinate deliveries in time for Christmas. But we’ll accept contributions beyond Dec. 21. We never refuse toys.”
Starting Friday, Toys For Tots representatives will be manning the collection area on Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, representatives will be available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday hours are from 1 to 5 p.m.
Face masks must be worn, and social distancing observed.
The Marine Corps and Toys For Tots has been making a difference in the lives of American families since 1947, when Marine Corps Reserve Maj. Bill Hendricks was asked by his wife Diane to deliver a few handcrafted dolls to an agency that supports children in need.
When Bill Hendricks reported back to Diane Hendricks that he could not find such an agency, she told him to “start one.”
That effort in 1947 saw the Los Angeles Marines collect and distribute 5,000 toys to children in need.
The success of this initial community engagement prompted the USMC commandant to implement a Toys For Tots campaign into a national community-action program in 1948.
Bill Hendricks’ civilian job was as a public-relations director at Warner Bros. Studios and Walt Disney, one of his friends deigned the first Toys For Tots poster that included a miniature, three-car train that was eventually adopted as the Toys For Tots logo.
Today, the Marine Toys For Tots program distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less-fortunate children a year.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.