In 1947, Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks was preparing for the holidays with his family in Los Angeles, CA. His wife, Diane, was an altruistic mother with nimble fingers and a knack for handcrafting. She handmade a few dolls during the holidays that year and asked her husband to donate them to an agency that supported children in need. The agency he sought didn’t exist - not yet.
Hendricks returned to his wife with the disheartening news, but instead of fretting, she inspired him to “start one!” He proceeded to round up the Marines in his unit to create a way to donate the dolls to children in need. They collected and distributed 5,000 toys that year.
Seeing the impact it created, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Clifton B. Cates, directed all Reserve units to implement a Toys for Tots campaign in 1948, making the Program national.
Hendricks’ civilian job was as Director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studios, he used his connections to support the Program to expand its reach. As a favor to his friend Bill, Walt Disney created the first Toys for Tots poster that was adopted as the official logo.
Seventy-five years later, Toys for Tots now distributes an average of 18 million toys and books to over 7 million less fortunate children across the Nation.