LANSING, Mich. — There's no doubt that if you go out shopping or stop by businesses during the holiday season, you’ve seen Marine Toys for Tots boxes. It's an annual event to provide toys and gifts for underserved children. And those who make it possible here in mid-Michigan, are working overtime to make sure every child has something to open on Christmas morning.
Lori Williams is the owner of Lansing’s Young Bros. and Daley. Lori says her business has been participating in Toys for Tots for several years and she loves the program.
“I believe in magic, and I like bringing magic to everybody I meet especially this time of year and especially to children," Williams said. "It means a lot to me. I love to see the shine on children's faces and see things through the eyes of a child.”
Cindy Koslowski is with the Greater Lansing Home Builders Association. The Home Builders organize an annual Marine Toy for Tots drive. They've been doing this for nearly a decade and have distributed 8,000 toys and more than $26,000 in donations.
“The people that are involved with this are good neighbors because they are giving from their heart," said Koslowski. "Kids can't choose their life, and especially little kids that are expecting something on Christmas morning. They don't have that choice of whether they get something or not. Every kid deserves something!”
Where did it all start?
The Marine Toys for Tots program is part of a national effort to deliver toys to children who may not otherwise receive gifts during the holidays. It was founded in 1947 by a U.S. Marine who recognized the need in his own community when he returned home from the war.
“There was U.S. Marine after World War II who came home, and he realized that there were a lot of families that were going without because they were out of money," said U.S. Marine Sgt. Kevin Sweeney. "He and fellow Marines got together, and they purchased some toys.”
U.S Marine Sergeant Rico Alexander says he enjoys participating in the Marine Toys for Tots program because he remembers being a kid who received a toy from the program.
“This is actually pretty meaningful to me because I was a recipient of Toys for Tots as a child," Alexander said. "I know how much it meant to me being able to see my dad come home with a bag of toys on Christmas.”
The organization also hits close to home for Lansing resident Dianne Huh who is a long-time Toys for Tots volunteer. Both of her sons were U.S. Marines. Her son, David was killed in the Iraq War. And she says the Toys for Tots organization gives her a sense of purpose.
“I could sit home on the couch and feel sorry for me, or I can go and help and volunteer and put a smile on a young child’s face," Huh said.
How to help:
If you’d like to donate some toys or find out more information about Toys For Tots you can visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing’s website at https://hbalansing.com/ or visit the Toys For Tots website at https://www.toysfortots.org/
From the businesses to the volunteers and everyone in between who make Marine Toys for Tots such a success, you are all this week’s good neighbors. We want to say thank you for making holiday miracles happen.
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