MFRD celebrating thirty years of helping children through the Toys for Tots program
Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department is celebrating thirty (30) years of helping children through the Toys for Tots program. MFRD became involved with Toys for Tots in 1983 when Ms. Rose Yost established Rutherford County Miles of Dimes which soon evolved into the current Toys for Tots. Ms. Yost asked for help from the fire department and we gladly provided support.
Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Retired Marine Corps Major, Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5000 toys to needy children. The idea actually came from Bill’s wife, Diane, in the Fall of 1947. Diane handcrafted a Raggedy Ann doll and asked Bill to deliver the doll to an organization which would give it to a needy child for Christmas. Bill determined that no such group existed and Diane asked Bill to start one, and he did.
The 1947 pilot program was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it to a nationwide campaign. The initial objective remains the hallmark of the program still today, to “bring the joy of Christmas to America’s needy children.”
Since the beginning of the program in Murfreesboro, the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department has helped by distributing boxes, collecting toys and monetary donations from local donor businesses and handing out toys to the little ones on the day of the give-away. Ms. Yost retired in 2004 and the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department recruited the Rutherford County Home Builder’s Association to help us with the organization and management of the program. With this being the ninth year of the Home Builder’s and the Fire Department’s partnership, we have grown and expanded to bring more and more toys to needy children within our community each year. Local businesses and civic groups come together every year to help with the program. Toys for Tots is a great way for all of us to give back to the less fortunate members of our city.
The Marines collected both new and used toys from 1947 through 1979, but beginning in 1980 the Marines only collected and distributed new toys because of health issues. In 1948, Walt Disney designed the Toys for Tot’s logo which is still in use today. The Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, expanded Toys for Tots to cover all 50 states in 1996. The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has distributed more than 370 million toys to more than 173 million needy children in the past 66 years. All donations to Toys for Tots can be used as a charitable deduction on one’s income tax return.
Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue distributed 83+ boxes in 2012 with the assistance of the Mt. Moriah Masonic Lodge and the Home Builder’s sent out 20 to 25 more in the county. In 2009, we invited 1500 children and had close to 1700 children to attend the give-away.
The number attending in 2010 and 2011 was also between 1600 and 1800 children. We invited 2100 children in 2012 and had more than 1700 attend.
Each year prior to this year, 2013, we have determined the number of invitations we could send out by the number of children on the Murfreesboro Schools’ Free and Reduced Lunch Program and asked each school’s guidance counselors to issue the invitations to the children most needing assistance. This year we have altered that program to require a pre-registration program to allow us to know the number of children to expect and to know their ages and gender to assure we have the proper amount of toys for those in attendance.
This past year, we had tremendous support from volunteers and our community. To mention but a few donors of time and money and toys, there was Skill Construction, Community Health Care, World Outreach Church, Hooter’s Restaurant, Mt. Moriah Masonic Temple, Jerusalem Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bumpus Harley Davidson, PatCo Fire Safety, Publix Grocery, Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department and the MFRD Union and, of course, Billy Womack as Santa Claus.
Each year there is a lot of hard work and a lot of fun building up to the day we give out the toys. I ask everyone to help and bring their families and children to enjoy the experience. They will better understand the need and the love in our community. A small percent of those attending to receive gifts do not need to be there, but the majority of the people who show up are truly needful and very thankful we are there to help them have a Christmas.
This year the Registration and Give-Away are being held at 2227 B Southpark Drive, Murfreesboro, TN 37128. Registration will be conducted Monday through Friday, December 9 through 13, at the site. Anyone wishing to register for toys for their children may bring a photo ID, proof of eligibility, proof of residency and the birth certificates of the children needing toys with them to the registration. The Give-Away will be held on Saturday, December 14, with times and details given out at the Registration. Once again, you must be pre-registered and have a valid ticket for each child in order to participate in this year’s toy give-away.
We are currently very short on toys and very short on volunteer help. Please consider helping us, whether an individual or family or a church group, sports team, club or organization, or business, we need volunteers. To volunteer or gather more information about the give-away email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any new unwrapped toys to donate, there are many boxes around town or you may bring them to any of our nine Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Stations.
Thank you all for the support and love provided our community.