Toys for Tots brings cheer to children

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Marine Corps League Upper Peninsula Detachment 444 Senior Vice Commandant Mike King, who coordinates the Toys for Tots campaign in Delta and Menominee counties, puts a Lego set on a shelf used for toy storage in the basement of American Legion Post 71 in Gladstone Monday.

ESCANABA — Local organizers have begun the home stretch of the annual Toys for Tots campaign. Marine Corps League Upper Peninsula Detachment 444 Senior Vice Commandant Mike King, who coordinates the campaign in Delta and Menominee counties, said toy donations have been healthy this year; however, he noted more community support is always welcome.

Toys for Tots originated as a local campaign in Los Angeles in 1947 as a way to distribute toys to needy children. One year later, it was instituted nationally by the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

“It’s been carrying on ever since,” King said.

The area’s Toys for Tots campaign has been running for almost two months this year.

“Our program runs from Oct. 1 to … around (Dec.) 20th,” King said.

So far, local toy donations in 2017 have been roughly comparable to donations at this point in 2016.

“We’re on the same track as we were before,” King said. Last year, Toys for Tots was able to give about 8,000 toys to about 2,800 children in the area.

Many of the toys donated to the local Toys for Tots campaign come from national sponsors of the campaign. Local donors also play a crucial role in making Toys for Tots a success.

“I would say 60 percent of the toys and (money) given comes from local donations,” King said.

To help make the donation process as easy as possible, more than 200 boxes and cans have been placed in Delta and Menominee counties.

“They’re all over the area,” King said. Donated toys are collected by campaign volunteers, and are given to organizations such as Rotary International, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, and Bay Cliff Health Camp for distribution to children in need.

A wide variety of toys have been given to Toys for Tots by people in the area for the 2017 campaign.

“If you think of it, they donate it,” King said. However, he noted that there is currently a need for gifts for male and female children between the ages of 11 and 18.

Toy donations are not the only way people in the area can support Toys for Tots, King said. The local campaign has also been doing moderately well this year in terms of financial contributions.

“Money donations are coming along fairly good,” he said.

However people in the area decide to support Toys for Tots, King said their involvement will make a difference locally.

“Ninety-eight percent of the donations we get go to the local area,” he said.

For more information about Toys for Tots, visit