In 2022, Toys for Tots expanded our year-round support even further by launching our newly established Foster Care initiative. Our goal is to be a year-round force for good and provide emotional relief and comfort whenever they're needed most.
During the month of May, Foundation members, special guests, and local Toys for Tots Coordinators and volunteers joined forces to be champions for those in Foster Care and assisted with distribution events in Buena Park, CA; Quincy, IL; and Mt Laurel, NJ. For each event, Marine Toys for Tots and the Sydney Paige Foundation provided backpacks filled with a blanket, books, toys, school supplies, and art sets.
CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, LtGen Jim Laster said, “These children leave their homes with only a small plastic bag of their belongings. Marine Toys for Tots wants to give foster children not only something tangible to take with them as they move, but also some tools and hope for a brighter tomorrow.”
The Foster Care initiative kicked off support in Buena Park, CA. Giving Children Hope, a non-profit organization that helps children and families in need in Southern California, hosted a backpack distribution to support 400 Foster Care children in local communities of Orange County, CA. This event was supported by representatives from the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Giving Children Hope, With Honor, Marines from the local reserve unit, and NBA Alumnus, Rick Darnell.
Foundation members then traveled to Quincy, IL to assist with the second distribution event of 2023 as part of the Toys for Tots Foster Care initiative. 400 foster children living in six counties across Quincy attended a carnival themed, ‘free day of fun’ event. Each child received a passport style necklace with the location of each station in the carnival that included pony rides, face painting, train rides, and more! As they traveled through the stations, the children were given stickers, and all reached the final destination – the Toys for Tots table! Members from the local Police, EMT, and Fire Departments, American Legion, Marine Corps League, and other local organizations assisted with the event. Quincy’s very own ambassador, Miss Quincy, Shelby Rose, was there to spread cheer and joy to children as well!
To conclude May’s Foster Care events, a birthday celebration was hosted by the Mt Laurel Toys for Tots team to bring joy and birthday wishes to 200 local foster children. Each child was escorted around the event by a volunteer where they selected an age-appropriate toy and a gift bag to take home along with their backpack full of gifts. Throughout the birthday celebration event, children enjoyed food, taking pictures in a photo booth, and watching a volunteer make balloon animals. To make the day even more special, every hour a cake was rolled into the event area and all those in attendance would sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the children! Many special guests attended the event including Marines and Senator Troy Singleton and several other state and local officials.
One representative said, “I think this will mean the world to our families. A child entering care is one of the most challenging times of their life, they’re being removed from everything that they know, being placed in a completely unknown situation and so I think that an event like this can bring some happiness and joy during a very stressful time.”
Through our Foster Care initiative, we are able provide foster children with resources that help them during very challenging and uncertain times with the goal of reducing their anxiety and making a positive impact on their lives. Toys for Tots is eager to provide even more support to foster children, and the Program will be providing toys, books, and gifts to 2,100 foster children in Tucson, AZ later in June.
We are champions for those in Foster Care.