Senator and Mrs. Carper Host Toys for Tots

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22By Terry Rogers

On Sunday, December 13,, Senator Tom Carper and his wife, Martha, hosted their annual Toys for Tots Christmas Party at the Rookery North in Milford, DE. While listening to the sounds of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts choral students singing Christmas carols, Senator and Mrs. Carper visited with approximately 100 guests, all of whom brought toys to be given to the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

“We have done this for more than 30 years,” Senator Carper said. “We hold this one in Milford for residents of Kent and Sussex County. We are holding another on Friday, December 18 for New Castle residents.” Senator Carper has a strong affiliation with the military as well, having served as a naval flight officer during three tours of duty in Vietnam.

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 began hosting Toys for Tots events the year they were married and held the initial Christmas parties at their home in Old New Castle when the Senator was the Treasurer for the State of Delaware. At the Rookery, Senator Carper joked with the young people in the choral ensemble, asking them where they planned to attend high school and what their plans were beyond that.

“I absolutely love this event,” Senator Carper said. “It is amazing to see what a community can do when you simply ask them to help. By the time we are done next Friday, we hope to have collected more than 500 toys for children who would not receive a gift on Christmas morning otherwise. I know that everyone here feels as good about what they are doing to help those less fortunate as Martha and I do providing them the ability to do that.”