Toys for Tots Donation Box

A Toys For Tots donation box located in Cowgill Hall, Dec. 9, 2021

The Toys for Tots program runs from Oct. 21 to Dec. 23 on campus, and Virginia Tech students can donate toys and books. There are four locations available to students on campus: the first-floor lobby in the Student Services Building, the third floor of Bishop-Favrao Hall, the second floor of Cowgill Hall, and the Office of Veteran Services in Hillcrest Hall.

Toys for Tots is a charity program where people can donate things such as toys and money for children in need. The program was started in Los Angeles in 1947 by a group of Marine reservists who had bought toys to give to children during the holiday season. In the following year, this gesture turned into a national community action program and became the Toys for Tots program.

“The Marine Corps came to the program to the Marine Corps Reserve, and the Marine Corps Reserve set up the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, which is based on a 501(c)(3) charity,” said Harold Ross, the Toys for Tots campaign coordinator for the New River Valley (NRV). “The foundation is manned by mostly retired Marines and there are six accounting specialists who take care of 830 individual local coordinators like me around the country. The idea is that we want to give at least two toys on a stocking stuffer to children between the ages of 0 and 16. The way we work is we work with the local social services agency of each city and we give the toys to these agencies or other nonprofits.”

Ross has been working with the Toys for Tots Foundation since 2005, which is also when the Marine Corps League Detachment was founded in the NRV area.

“And that year, we worked on the Toys for Tots without sanction from the foundation,” Ross said. “And the next year we were organized and we did it right. But we've been doing it since 2005 every year, we have not missed a year.”

Katherine Papadopulos, a senior majoring in business information technology, volunteered at her church and high school for the Toys for Tots program.

“I think it’s a great idea and highlights the importance of giving during a season where people tend to be greedy,” Papadopulos said. “The program allows us to reflect on the needs of others and gives us the opportunity to give back to those in need.”

Papadopulos had enjoyed the experience she had with the Toys for Tots program.

“At my high school, I helped wrap and organize gifts to go to different children’s hospitals and families that couldn’t afford gifts for their children during the holidays,” Papadopulos said. “Even if they were small items, I remember thinking how much of an impact these gifts may have had on some children.”

Students can learn more about the program and how to donate at the Toys for Tots website.