Needy families wishing to receive toys from the U.S. Marine Corps-affiliated Toys For Tots program can call beginning Wednesday to be added to the list.
The telephone number is 619-7996, and it will be answered from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. starting Wednesday and continuing through Dec. 12.
The program is also seeking donations, either of toys or money to purchase toys. Because of the charity's relationships with businesses, it can purchase $1.60 worth of toys for every $1 donation, according to Ken Crowell, who works with the program in Bedford County.
Crowell stressed that even though Toys For Tots is a nationwide program, all toys or money donated in Bedford County are used in Bedford County.
New toys in their original packaging, not gift-wrapped, can be dropped off at a number of area locations:
* First Community Bank (all locations)
* Corner Cleaners
* Century Mold
* Shelbyville Power, Water and Sewerage System
* Newell Rubbermaid
* Dollar General Market (not the regular Dollar General stores)
* Elite Physical Therapy
* MG Fitness
* Shelbyville Fire Department
Monetary donations can be mailed to Toys For Tots, PO Box 2187, Shelbyville, TN 37162.
According to its website, http://toysfortots.org , Toys For Tots began in 1947, when a Marine Corps reservist, Bill Hendricks, organized a toy drive in the Los Angeles area. Hendricks' civilian job was director of public relations for Warner Brothers, giving him access to stars who could help promote the effort. The drive went national in 1948, and Walt Disney designed the Toys For Tots logo still in use today, as well as a poster used to promote the program.
Originally, used toys were refurbished by reservists. Starting in 1980, only new toys were collected. This is because the duties of reservists allowed less time for toy repair; because of safety and liability concerns with older toys, not built to modern safety standards; and because the use of new toys helps communicate a more-positive message to the needy children who receive them.
In the late 1980s, an independent non-profit foundation was created to manage the charity, which is still approved as an official activity of the U.S. Marine Corps and an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve. The creation of an independent foundation allowed promotional contracts with corporate sponsors into which the military would have been unable to enter.