Custus L. Perry

Published 11:30 am Saturday, November 22, 2008

By Staff
The Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign and other drives that collect toys, clothing and other items for needy children during the Christmas season are deserving of support.
Even more so when the nation’s economy is in trouble. That’s when those needy children need help the most. For many people, it is easy to donate to such worthy causes such as Toys for Tots and the Red Kettle Campaign when the economy is booming and there is plenty of money to spread around. It is when there is less money to spread around that people should digger deeper into their pockets and make sacrifices to help put smiles on the faces of needy children.
Simply put, it is better to give than receive. No one knows that better than a needy child being the recipient of something given by someone else. For without the person who gives, there would be no recipient of that gift.
As happened last year, a drop-off site for donations to Toys for Tots will be set up on Stewart Parkway as part of the sixth-annual Christmas Flotilla set for the evening of Dec. 6 on Washington’s waterfront. Last year’s Toys for Tots campaign associated with the flotilla was coordinated by Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, Pamlico Sail and Power Squadron and the Washington Noon Rotary Club.
Their support of that campaign is deserving of praise because it was extremely successful.
Even for nothing else, the Marine Corps Reserve deserves respect and gratitude for what it does to help protect this nation. With its Toys for Tots campaign, the Marine Corps Reserve earns additional admiration and respect for ensuring many needy children wear smiles at Christmas.
The story of how Toys for Tots began is typical of Marines who take the initiative when faced with an obstacle. They overcome.
Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks, a Marine Corps reservist, and a group of fellow reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea came from Hendricks’ wife, Diane, who made a Raggedy Ann doll and asked her husband to deliver it to a group that would give it to a needy child. When Hendricks determined that no such agency existed, his wife told him to start one. He did.
As for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, it is also deserving of praise because it continues its long history of feeding people and providing them the basics of life.
Donations placed in the kettles provide Christmas dinners, clothing and toys to families in need. Donations also help provide basic necessities, along with seasonal aid such as money to enable some people to pay their heating bills, according to the national Salvation Army’s Web site. Volunteers help distribute gifts to shut-ins at hospitals and nursing homes.
The tradition of the kettles goes back more than 100 years when a Salvation Army captain decided to feed hungry people in San Francisco. It was in December 1891 when Capt. Joseph McFee recalled that during his days as a sailor he came upon “Simpson’s pot” in Liverpool, England. Passersby tossed donations into that pot to help feed the poor.
McFee received permission from San Francisco officials to place a brass urn at a ferry terminal. Easily seen by ferry passengers, the urn served its purpose as those passengers placed donations in the urn. Thus, a Christmas tradition was born.
It matters not to which charity or charities one makes a donation this Christmas season. What does matter is giving.
Want proof it does matter? Just ask a Marine who has delivered Toys for Tots gifts to a needy child at Christmas or the Salvation Army volunteer whose delivery of food to a poor family means that family’s members go to bed with full stomachs on Christmas Day.