The annual KWWL Toys For Toys campaign is underway now until December 6. Drop off your new, unwrapped toys or books in the lobby of the KWWL building at 511 East 5th Street in downtown Waterloo.
KWWL is part of the Cedar Valley toy drive organized each year by the Cedar Falls Exchange Club.
The Exchange Club has been carrying on the Cedar Valley tradition established years ago by the local U.SD. Marine Reserve unit.
Last year, the Cedar Valley Toys For Tots drive helped 1,651 area children receive gifts, with 4,300 toys collected in the local effort.
To find a toy drop off location in your community, go to http://ToysForTots.org
You can trace the history of Toys For Tots back to Los Angeles and 1947.
A U.S. Marine Corps Reservist, Major Bill Hendricks, is said to have been inspired by his wife Diane. She had tried to donate a homemade doll to a needy child, but, Diane was unable to find any local organization willing to accept the doll.
So, Major Hendricks called together other local Marine reservists, and they collected some 5,000 toys for local children that year alone by placing toy collection boxes outside Warner Brothers movie theaters where movie-goers quickly got the idea.
That first year in 1947 was so successful, they launched a nationwide Toys For Tots campaign.
Until 1979, Marine reservists and volunteers would collect and refurbish used toys. In 1980, only new toys were accepted, as reservists were no longer able to dedicate drill hours to refurbish toys, as well as legal concerns and the mixed message of giving a hand-me-down kind of toy as a message of hope.
As of 2016, the Toys for Tots Program and Foundation have collected and distributed more than 512 million toys.