Since its founding in 1775, the United States Marine Corps has become a byword for honor, bravery, and devotion to duty. Becoming a member of an elite group like the Marine Corps is something you earn and so, even more than the members of the other military services, Marines have a very strong sense of identity and pride. As they say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
The Marine Corps is world-famous, but what’s not as well known is its relationship to the Toys for Tots program. Marines are tough, but it turns out they have a soft spot for children. It began back in 1947 when Diane Hendricks had a homemade Raggedy Anne doll she wanted to donate but couldn’t find an organization that would connect her with a child in need. Her husband Bill was a major in the Marine Corps Reserve and she told him that he and his Marine buddies should do something about it. He contacted John Hampton (a journalist who’d enlisted in the Corps and become a lieutenant colonel) and they swung into action. Along with other reservists, they collected more than 5,000 donated toys. The following year, their campaign went national and became a huge success. In fact, Toys for Tots has distributed a total of more than 500 million toys!
Toys for Tots ran a powerful public service announcement and we’ve posted it below. In it, a little boy approaches a Marine guard and asks him if he’s Santa Claus. The Marine is standing ramrod straight, not moving a muscle. His orders are obviously to stand guard, say nothing, and not get distracted. Orders are orders and Marines are nothing if not disciplined. But then keep an eye on his left hand…
How did you like this tough-but-tender Marine in the role of Santa Claus? We’d love to hear from you in the comments at Facebook. Don’t forget to like and share: it’s a good way to remind friends that they might want to add something to their shopping list to pass along to Toys for Tots.