volunteers with the Uniontown Fire Department and Toys For Tots pose with the toys collected by area fire departments that totaled in the thousands for children in the area who would otherwise not receive toys this Christmas. The department will again serve as a drop-off place for the program (Herald-Standard photo).
By Karen Mansfield
UNIONTOWN, Pa. — This holiday season marks the 75th anniversary of the well-loved Toys for Tots program.
The national initiative was launched in 1947 to collect and distribute toys for children whose families may not have the financial means to buy them gifts for Christmas.
Toys for Tots was started when Diane Hendricks, the wife of Marine Corps Reserve Maj. Bill Hendricks, asked her husband to deliver a few handcrafted dolls she’d made to an agency that supports children in need.
When Bill Hendricks reported back to his wife that he could not find such an organization, she instructed him to start one. Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947.
Today, Toys for Tots distributes an average of 18 million toys to 7 million less fortunate children annually.
In 2021, Fayette County’s Toys for Tots program distributed 8,838 today, supporting 1,123 children.
Registration for this year’s program continues, with the last day to do so Wednesday, Dec. 7 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the old BonTon in the Uniontown Mall.
Those wishing to register must bring photo identification, an Access/SNAP card, proof of Fayette County residency, and for each child through 12 years old, a medical card and proof of birth date.
Masks are required to be worn.
In Washington and Greene counties, Toys for Tots served about 3,500 children and distributed more than 30,000 toys, books and stocking stuffers last year.
There are a number of toy collection boxes in businesses throughout all three counties, including the main lobby of the Herald-Standard. Donations are also being accepted at the Uniontown Fire Department, 84 N. Beeson Ave., and the Uniontown Police Station, 45 E. Penn St. Toys will also be collected during Christmas in The Square at Storey Square in Uniontown. Those events begins at 6 p.m. today, and at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Karen Mansfield is a reporter for the Herald-Standard of Uniontown, Pa. Helping the Helpers is a joint effort between the Herald-Standard and the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Readers may email her at [email protected].
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