Sixty-five years ago, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation collected its first toy: a handmade Raggedy Ann doll. Now the program collects more than 16 million toys for children nationally and allows Marines to show a different side of their service.
"We're not just these war machines that every thinks about," says Staff Sgt. Oscar Villegas, the toy drive's Northern Virginia coordinator. "Every marine wants to put on their blues uniform and go out there and make a difference here at home."
A bad economy usually means fewer donations for charitable foundations like his, but Toys for Tots continues to grow. Last Christmas, Villegas's Northern Virginia chapter donated toys to almost 80,000 kids.
"I guess that's the good thing about America, people still want to give," he says. "We put the message out that we are in need of toys, and people respond pretty good to that."
Donations are accepted in Northern Virginia until Dec. 18.
Lee Calhoun, a former associate of the D.C. businessman at the center of a wide-ranging investigation into D.C. corruption, is said to have made campaign contributions in the names of other people.