Marines’ Toys for Tots adapts amid coronavirus pandemic

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, headquartered in Prince William County, Virginia, continues its mission to collect new unwrapped toys and distribute them to less fortunate children at Christmas this year despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Triangle, Virginia-based nonprofit began its Toys for Tots 2020 holiday campaign on Oct. 1. The campaign runs through Christmas.

“We’re going to maneuver around and within the pandemic safely in order to bring hope to children in need,” said Ted Silvester, vice president of marketing and development at the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

Sylvester said coordinators working on the annual campaign have been advised to follow all state and local restrictions — and “use common sense.”

“If stores are open, we’re going to be collecting toys and distributing them to kids,” he said. “But do it safely and using masks and scheduling the distribution out a little bit more, so folks aren’t gathered up.”

The group said it will be conducting 810 toy collection and distribution campaigns in all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Due to the financial toll of the coronavirus pandemic, Sylvester said the foundation “anticipates many more folks to be seeking support from Toys for Tots this year, many more than normal.”

He said local toy collections are expected to be impacted for the same reason.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Marine Toys for Tots said it typically collects an average of 18 million toys that it distributes to 7 million children each holiday season.

“No matter what it is, Marines are always able to adapt and get the mission accomplished. And that’s what Toys for Tots is going to do this year,” said Sylvester.

If you can’t find one of the Marine Corps Reserve-run program’s bins in your area, you can still give at the group’s website.

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