Senator and Mrs. Tom Carper invited guests to The Rookery North at Shawnee in Milford on Sunday, December 16 for a holiday party which celebrated the local Toys for Tots effort. Residents of Sussex County gathered to hear the sounds of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts, enjoy the cuisine of The Rookery and were urged to bring an unwrapped gift for area children.
Greeting event goers at the door was Robert Axselle of the Marine Corps League. Serving his country from 1990 to 1994, Robert has coordinated the Toys for Tots event in Sussex County the past three years.
“Ever since I found that there was such a need for this program I started to help out,” commented Mr. Axselle. “There are so many unfortunate children helped through Toys for Tots, we are able to provide a bright spot for these children once a year.”
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped during the months of October, November and December each year. The toys are distributed as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the local community where campaigns are held. The purpose of the organization and the individual toy drives is to help disadvantaged children experience the joy of Christmas.
The program began in 1947 by Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR in Los Angeles, California where 5,000 toys were collected during a campaign before Christmas 1947. One year later the The United States Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots and expanded it into a nationwide community action project as the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program. Last year, despite the slow economy and a reduced materiel and manpower capability of the reserves, the 2011 campaign realized its greatest revenue ever at $252 million. Upon conclusion of the 2011 campaign, Toys for Tots had distributed nearly 16 million toys to more than 7 million children.
Senator Carper and his wife Martha have hosted Toys for Tots holiday events for the past 27 years, since the year they were married. According to Senator Carper the event has grown from a small group of friends to a statewide event across the three counties of Delaware.
“Martha and I started hosting the event in our home in Old New Castle when I was State Treasurer,” commented Senator Carper. “I love the Marine Corps and have great respect for what they do. To be able to partner with them is a feeling of real satisfaction for Martha and myself.”