Established over 70 years ago, the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation is still going strong — especially in Darien.
The foundation, a nonprofit public charity, is the fund-raising, funding and support organization for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.
Establishments in Darien who are collecting Toys for Tots:
- Aval Hair Salon, 408 Post Road
- Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, 54 Post Road
- Dynamic Athletics, 319 Post Road
- First County Bank, 1006 Post Road
- Halstead Property Connecticut, 671 Post Road
- Helen Ainson, 1078 Post Road
- Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate, 780 Post Road
- H & L Chevrolet Auto Parts, 1416 Post Road
- Land Rover Darien, 1335 Post Road
- Laurel Road Bank, 1001 Post Road
- Noroton Fire Department, 1873 Post Road
- Palmer’s Market, 264 Heights Road
- Patriot Bank, 233 Post Road
- Performance Physical Therapy and Wellness, 800 Post Road
- Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe, 980 Post Road
- Wells Fargo Bank, 310 Heights Road
- William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, 1057 Post Road
- Wireless Zone, 1075 Post Road
- Woodway Country Club Pro Shop, 540 Hoyt St.
Toys are needed by Christmas Eve. Toys that are sent in after that date are used for the Three Kings’ Day celebration in January.
Toys for Tots was created in 1947 by Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation was established in 1991 through the Marine Corps.
The foundation raises funds, purchases toys, provides promotional and support materials, manages all funds raised and donated, solicits corporate support, educates the public, and handles day-to-day operations for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, according to the Toys for Tots website.
Giving, receiving toys
Individuals, organizations and churches request toys through an application process.
Requesters can indicate the gender and age of the child who needs the toy. They are required to show proof that the child’s family is in need.
Members of the community drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes positioned in local businesses throughout town.
Coordinators pick up these toys and store them in central warehouses, where they are sorted by age and gender.
At Christmas, coordinators — with the help of social welfare agencies, church groups, and other local community groups — distribute the toys, according to the Toys for Tots website.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program distributes 18 million toys to 7 million children annually.
George Ducanic, coordinating officer for Darien Toys for Tots, said the town has been involved with the program for the past 25 years — “ever since the Gulf War,” he said.
Aside from Darien, Ducanic is also the Toys for Tots coordinating officer for the towns of Stamford, New Canaan and Greenwich.
Each coordinator has a warehouse to store their toys. Darien’s warehouse is in Stamford.
In 2017, Ducanic helped 15,914 children through Toys for Tots, according to Accounting Specialist Karen Torrence.
He distributed 16,383 toys, 450 books, and 1,200 stocking stuffers to children who live in Darien and Stamford, Torrence said.
“This helps families that can’t afford Christmas,” Ducanic said. “Every child deserves a little Christmas. That is the Marine Reserves motto.”
For more information on Toys for Tots, visit toysfortots.org.