James Seramba loves the Christmas season and notes that it is such an important time of the year to become involved in your local community by volunteering your time to bring joy to the less fortunate.
It is a time for the little ones to excitedly wake up Christmas morning, tear open wrapping paper and squeal with delight knowing that Santa brought them everything on their list. That is the perfect scenario, but for millions of children, they will be lucky if they find even one present under the tree.
With the economic downturn in the economy and families struggling to provide the basics, they are increasingly turning to food banks, churches and local organizations to help them cope. James Seramba knows first-hand the importance of the Toys for Tots program. As a volunteer for several years with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation he has donated his time to make a difference for less fortunate children.
The roots of the program go back to the 1940’s when new and used toys were collected for those less fortunate. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that only new toys were collected for distribution. The Marine’s felt that by delivering a used toy to a child that they were sending a message that they were not deserving of a new toy. The primary goal of the organization is;
“to deliver through a new Christmas toy a message of hope to the less fortunate youngsters that will assist them to becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens”
In 1995 The Secretary of Defense named Toys for Tots as an official activity of the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserves. It was founded out of a necessity to ensure that communities served by the Marine Corps units were able to provide enough toys for children in need.
In 1996 the program was expanded to include all 50 states and also added select local community organizations to conduct toy collection and distribution. Veteran marines oversaw these programs. In 1999 the program was officially expanded to include communities that were without a reserve unit.
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is located at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. The Foundation is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity. Campaigns are carried out in over 700 communities in all 50 states by designated Toys for Tots Coordinators. The Coordinator is responsible for planning, organizing and conducting the campaign for their local community
James Seramba Explains How the Program Works
The toy campaign begins in October and collection of toys continues until mid-December. To become involved and support the program you can donate a toy at your local area drop off locations. You can host Toys for Tots events at your home or office, or volunteer at your local warehouse.
- Collection boxes: the local business community donate a space in their stores for the boxes and members of the community drop off unwrapped toys
- Local business: provide vehicles to pick up the toys from the drop boxes, sponsor toy raising events and provide help to the Coordinator to arrange media exposure for the program
- Coordinators: the coordinators work with volunteers who pick up the toys to be stored at a central warehouse. The toys are then sorted by age and gender
- Local Agencies: Coordinators work with local welfare agencies, church groups and other local agencies to distribute the toys at Christmas. These groups identify the needy children in the community and play an important role in the distribution of toys to the less fortunate
National corporate partners play an important role both with their generous cash donations and their involvement with local community events. Toys R Us, Babies R Us, FAO Schwartz and Hasbro have individually contributed over $1 million in cash and $2 million in toys. To-date the foundation has distributed over 469 million toys to over 216 million less fortunate children
James Seramba, a financial and management expert knows how personally rewarding and valuable this Foundation is to children who otherwise would go without presents under the tree this Christmas.