Toys for Tots Collection boxes started popping up at various retails and businesses throughout Mount Airy — as well as showing up in Dobson, Pilot Mountain and Elkin — over the past week.
The collection efforts got a boost on Friday and Saturday, when several retired members of the Marines turned out at the Mount Airy Wal-Mart to help with collections, the miniature Toys for Tots train in tow.
The Marine Corps League, Detachment #1322, was there to collect toys or donations from the local community to assist with their annual Toys for Tots Campaign. Even Santa heard about the campaign and was on hand to lend a hand.
Toys for Tots started in December 1947, when the wife of Marine Reserve Major Bill Hendricks made a doll and asked her husband to find an organization that would give it to a less fortunate child at Christmas.
When the major could not find an organization that filled that void, he and members of the Los Angeles Marine Reserve Unit decided to help. The following year The Marine Corps Reserve adopted the program and Toys for Tots was born.
Today, Marine Corps Reserve Units and Marine Corps Leagues collect new, unwrapped toys to distribute to less fortunate children in their communities. The Marine Corps Reserve and Marine Corps Leagues throughout the United States work to meet the ever-growing demand to ensure that no child wake up on Christmas morning without a new toy under their Christmas tree.
The Marine Corps League of Surry County works from October to mid-December each year on the project, collecting toys and funds for more than seven years. The funds collected are used to purchase toys in local retailers. In 2016, 4,157 toys were collected or purchased throughout Surry County and 1,030 children woke up with presents under their Christmas Trees.
The organization said more than 97 percent of donations to the group goes to providing toys, books, and other gifts to less fortunate children. Less than 3 percent is spent on fundraising and overhead.
The group also said that all the Marines and others working for Toys for Tots in Surry County are volunteers, and all toys and funds collected in Surry County remains in Surry County.
Anyone who missed the Marine Corps League, Detachment #1322, last weekend and would like to help the children of Surry County, can find them at the Elkin Wal-Mart, on Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.