The Whittier College Student Veteran Organization (WCSVO) is partnering with the Veteran Success Office to bring The Marine Toys for Tots drive to campus to collect toys for underprivileged children in the United States. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is a non-profit charity which was formed by United States Marine Corps (USMC) Major Bill Hendricks in 1947 and was authorized as a non-profit in 1991. It is currently run by the USMC Reserve. Since the charity’s creation, 548 million toys have been donated to 251 million children, and for the past seventeen years has been recognized as one of the top charities by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
“It was a program designed to interact with the civilian populous and essentially embody the image of the [United States] Marine Corps. We want to help those in need. We want to provide and protect and make sure they’re safe,” said second-year Operations Officer of the WCSVO and USMC veteran Joshua Elsen. “[The Veterans Organization] wanted to give back to the community, so we thought it would be appropriate — especially during the holiday season — to bring Toys for Tots [to campus].”
The Toys for Tots website, toysfortots.org, states that, “The basic mission of the Marine Toys for Tots Program is to collect new unwrapped toys and distribute those toys to less fortunate children at Christmas.” Elsen himself had the opportunity to distribute toys to children while he was serving in the USMC. “I was stationed in Hawaii, and they asked for volunteers to drive tactical vehicles,” said Elsen. “We loaded up the back of my Humvee with toys in our deployment bags, and some other Marines met us at the shelter.” Elsen recalls the experience of giving toys to children, saying, “They were aged from three to ten, and I remember distinctly [for] one of the kids, [it was] the first toy [he had] gotten for Christmas.”
The WCSVO recently celebrated the United States Marine Corps 243rd birthday and Veterans Day on campus. “If anything, with the Veteran Organization, we’re trying to interact with the student populus a lot more,” said Elsen. “Not only [at] our own events, but other events. So you may see one or two of us going to other events just to be there and show support.”
Donations to Toys for Tots must be donated unwrapped to the Office of Equity and Inclusion by Dec. 14. Toys are then collected by the American Legion, who will take them to Marine Base Camp Pendleton for distribution. “Especially during this time of the season, I have a personal belief that no kid should go without a toy,” said Elsen.
The WCSVO meets on the first Thursday of every month at 4:30 p.m. in Room 101 of the Science and Learning Center. “We welcome anyone to join us at our meetings and invite anyone that has questions about the military and/or veteran life to come,” said Elsen. Questions can be directed to the WCSVO at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Veteran Success Office Coordinator Paulo Iparraguirre at email@example.com.