Santa’s helpers: U.S. Marine Corps help to collect toys

Katie Alberti

With the holidays quickly approaching, students and faculty will be able to relax with their loved ones and enjoy the winter season. For many children though, they must spend the holidays as they do any other day. Be it lack of money or any other reason, some children throughout the country won’t receive a single gift this year.

To make the season enjoyable for those children, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve created Toys for Tots.

According to its Web site, Toys for Tots is a program developed for people to donate new, unwrapped presents to less fortunate children throughout the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Hair stylist Jamie Cleary said her place of employment, Hair Company, in Tallmadge, has participated in the event for seven years.

“We used to do a gift exchange at work,” she said. “Toys for Tots was something we came up with. We wanted to give back to the community.”

Starting in 1947, the idea came from Maj. Bill Hendricks, USMCR and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles who collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children, the site reported. His wife, Diane, came up with the idea after realizing an organization dedicated to providing gifts to less fortunate children didn’t exist.

Since it originated, the foundation has been able to provide more than 330 million toys to roughly 158 million children.

To get people within Portage County interested in donating to the charity, Cleary said she posts fliers around Hair Company for clients and staff to see.

The store accepts any type of toys suitable for children and can range from toys for infants to teenagers. If interested participants do not have the time to buy a present, he or she may donate money instead.

After receiving gifts for children, Cleary takes the presents to the Marine Reserve in Akron. From there, the presents are distributed to children throughout the community.

Anyone interested in donating to Toys for Tots can call Hair Company at 330-633-0010 or drop off presents and checks to the store, located at 50 Metric Drive, Tallmadge.

Contact social services reporter Katie Alberti at [email protected].