The Marines—active duty, reserve and veterans—who comprise the local Toys for Tots program, have put in a lot of hours behind-the-scenes.
About 12-15 Marines in the Boise area work full-time from early November to late December for the program. They drop-off and collect boxes and toys, house the toys, sort them, organize them, and prepare them for agencies to deliver. Usually this is strictly volunteer work.
Major Travis Carlson, the officer in charge of the Marine detachment in Boise, explained they are “prohibited to use government assets to support the program.” This means the Marines use their personal vehicles to deliver and pick-up boxes and they pay for their own fuel. The Marines’ volunteer work covers all costs.
The only part of the process the Marines usually don’t participate in is the distribution of the toys. They leave that to agencies like the Salvation Army.
“Often times we don’t have the instant gratification,” Carlson said.
Carlson explained the reason for this is that the program is about the kids, not about Marines delivering toys.
“It’s not about us,” Carlson said.
Carlson stressed that he and his fellow Marines receive immense help from the community in the whole process.
“The dozen Marines here could not do this on our own,” Carlson said.
According to Carlson, the Treasure Valley Toys for Tots program helps about 15,000 children a year. It accomplishes this with the help of individual volunteers, organizations and about 80 agencies.
One of the major volunteer groups that helps the program is the Toys for Tots Motorcycle Ride committee.
Their annual motorcycle ride event acts as the “unofficial” opening event for the local Toys for Tots program. Five Marine veterans comprise this committee and began the first ride event four years ago.
Marine veterans Andy Wilson, Dino Glascock, Dwight Murphy, Terry Regelin and Tom Myers started the committee on the 235th birthday of the Marine Corps in a local tavern—Quinn’s Restaurant and Lounge. The owners of the tavern—Gary Sullivan and daughter Lisa Sullivan—helped the committee flourish.
The committee and ride event have become prominent for public awareness of Toys for Tots.
Murphy, one of the veterans who began the committee, sees their involvement as showing the public what’s truly important.
“All of us want to show this valley that bikers are kind of stereotyped…We have heart…It’s up to us to not let little kids suffer,” Murphy said.
This committee not only began the annual motorcycle ride with donated toys as the “entry fee,” but also distributes their own drop-off boxes. Currently, the committee has about 50 boxes at different locations throughout Boise. Four of those boxes are on the Boise State campus.
Murphy used to attend Boise State and now works for Taco Bell Arena security. He thinks Boise State can help the program.
“I think Boise State is a bigger hub of this valley than outside of Boise State realizes,” Murphy said.
Both Carlson and Murphy talked about the importance of community involvement—including Boise State—in the program.
Carlson wanted to give a “parting thank you to the community.” He expressed his gratitude for the community’s help in providing children with toys they wouldn’t normally have.
People are asked to leave new, unwrapped toys in the boxes at Boise State for the committee to pick up. All donations can be made at the Boise State Student Media Offices.