America ’s Windy City is known for many things—flamboyant politicians, an exciting night life, and wintry weather, to name a few. But Chicago is also home to a successful Toys for Tots program. In case you’re not familiar with it, Toys for Tots is a charitable program sponsored by Marine Reservists which spreads joy and toys in communities throughout America . In the fall and winter, you can drop off a new toy at a Toys for Tots location and contribute to one of the most successful toy giveaway programs in the U.S. today.
The Chicago Toys for Tots program may be best known for its motorcycle parade. In 1998 alone, more than 22,000 bikers took part in this phenomenal event. Since the parade began through the streets of Chicago in 1978, more than 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts have participated. Each motorcycle rider is asked to bring at least one toy to donate to the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. Believe it or not, the parade actually attracts riders from throughout the U.S. Bikes from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii have been spotted along the parade route. The parade also attracts a crowd of spectators who join in the fun by donating their own toys to the effort.
Over the years, participants in Chicago ’s program have
delivered thousands of toys to various hospitals, schools, and orphanages.
While some toys are quite welcome, though, other toys create problems.
For instance, the program no longer accepts stuffed animals because
a number of juvenile institutions do not permit the toys because of
hygiene problems. Toy guns, knives, brass knuckles, and handcuffs are
also not permitted.
When selecting a toy for the Chicago program, keep in mind that not only young children, but also teenagers need your help at Christmas. For that reason, organizers of the program say they need more sports equipment, such as bats, baseballs, gloves, footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, and bicycles. They can also use board games such as Parcheesi, Monopoly, Sorry, and Clue. Books—especially Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys—are welcome, as are Barbie, Ken, and GI Joe dolls.
More Information on Toys for Tots:
Marines Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots
Chicago Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots Michigan
Toys for Tots Minnesota