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Marine Toys For Tots

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LAST UPDATED: January 4th, 2023
In 1947, Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR (United States Marine Corps Reserve) and Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton began to collect toys for those in need. It was after Hendricks' wife could not find a charity to donate a handmade Raggedy Ann doll to a child at Christmas. Mrs. Hendricks suggested that the USMCR begin a toy drive to connect donated toys with those in need. Their initial toy drive resulted in 5,000 toys being collected for underprivileged children. Toys for Tots was nationally launched in 1948 and has had momentous growth since. Currently, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is headquartered in Triangle, Virginia. In 2015, the Marine Toys for Tots program collected and distributed 18 million toys to 7 million children in 782 communities. Marine Toys for Tots Literacy Program, in a partnership with The UPS Stores, raised over $319,000 and distributed over 3 million books to public schools and children in financially-depressed areas.

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The Good

  • Financial information is accessible
  • Inexpensive administrative expenses
  • 97 percent revenue is spent on program delivery

Total Income

Whenever possible, the Review Team uses information which was reported to the Internal Revenue Service on Form 990. Many organizations do not publish past years of their IRS Form 990. Marine Toy for Tots Foundation has published several past years of this form online. As with most organizations, annual revenue and donations for Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is affected by economic fluctuations. Donations to the organization have varied year-by-year, but the general amount collected over the last four years, according to reported income on IRS Form 990 are reported as follows:
  • 2015: $268,663,846
  • 2014: $276,619,072
  • 2013: $238,112,361
  • 2012: $249,036,694

Administrative Expenses

According to Marine Toys for Tots Foundation's 2015 Form 990, their CEO, H.P. Osman, has a reported annual salary of $270,500. The organization has a surprisingly low number of paid employees, with less that 20 reported on its 2015 IRS Form 990. Those working to implement the program are members of the United States Marine Corps Reserve and other volunteers. The total administrative expenses reported in 2015 is $4,288,004.

Fundraising Expenses

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation reported fundraising expenses of $6,177,547 on its 2015 IRS Form 990. The fundraising budget was .02 percent of their total income for the year. Marine Toys for Tots benefits from the widespread familiarity of their organization by not having to dedicate significant resources toward public relations and fundraising. This percentage places the organization among the top tier of charities as far as the company's income-to-fundraising ratio.

Program Percentage

The percentage of revenue which goes back into the program for Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is outstanding in comparison with many other organizations. For every dollar raised, 97 cents is used for program costs. As a reference point, watchdog Charity Watch considers an organization a Top Rated Charity if an organization uses 80 percent of its income to provide its service. Marine Toys for Tots is very effective in program delivery and fiscal responsibility.

Accessible Financial Information

Marine Toys for Tots published their annual reports for the last two years, which at the writing of this review is 2014 and 2015. The organization also published their IRS Form 990 for 2012-2015. While not considerably significant, the organization's publication of annual reports for the same timeframe would improve their transparency.


Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has been recognized for its outstanding fiscal responsibility and the above-average ratio of total annual revenue to program delivery. Many of these have been annual recognitions. Among Marine Toys for Tots' achievements which have been recognized are: 2002
  • Charity Navigator, an independent charity watchdog organization which rates charitable organizations on their financial transparency, program percentage, etc. awarded Marine Toys for Tots with four stars (out of four).
  • Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Marine Toys for Tots as Foundation #267 on their Philanthropy 400 list
  • DMA Nonprofit Federation named Marine Toys for Tots "Outstanding Nonprofit Organization of the Year."
  • Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked Marine Toys for Tots as Foundation #341 on their Philanthropy 400 list.
  • Starburst ranked Marine Toys for Tots' website as #9 in its "Top 100 Toy Website."
  • Readers Digest (November, 2003) named the organization as "America's Best Children's Charity."
  • Forbes Magazine included Marine Toys for Tots on its "Gold Star List" of charitable organizations.
Many of these awards have been repeated on an annual basis.

The Bad

  • Negative press
  • Donor communication issues

Negative Press

There is little/no reliable negative press stories about Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Two exceptions are a satirical piece as well as an op-ed written about the organization. The satire was published stating that Michelle Obama's support for Toys for Tots included the executive (i.e. Presidential) requirement that all gift packages delivered by Marine Toys for Tots include a copy of the Koran, which resulted in the resignation of the CEO of Toys for Tots. This story is false in that while Mrs. Obama did support the organization, there was no such Executive Order by President Obama, nor did the CEO resign. This story has taken many forms, one of which included the allegation that the organization did not accept donations of Jesus dolls from a Christian church (unnamed), stating that religious items could not be distributed. An op-ed piece about Marine Toys for Tots Foundation was published on December 22, 2010, by Open Media Boston, wherein the organization was criticized for their apparent hypocrisy in that members of the military routinely kill children during operations overseas, yet act as Santa at home. This piece was strictly opinion, and offensive to many members of the military and their families.

Donor Communication

Online donors receive a receipt for their tax-deductible organization as well as newsletter announcements. Some report that the communications coming from Marine Toys for Tots in further years are excessive and irritating. This cannot be substantiated, but as the organization's fundraising budget is such a low percentage annually, this anecdotal evidence is questionable. Those who support Marine Toys for Tots by donating toys do not receive a tax-deductible receipt, but can claim the gift on their taxes. The Review Team does not give tax advice, and anyone with questions should consult their tax professional.

The Bottom Line

Those looking for a charitable organization which does not have significant administrative costs and reasonably-paid executives with responsible fiscal practices should consider giving to Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. The organization has been giving hope to children at Christmas for nearly 70 years and is regularly recognized as a high-quality charity. For those wanting to have documentation of their gift for tax purposes are advised to donate online rather than at a drop box; however, the holiday spirit of giving anonymously is recognition enough for many. The Review Team recommends Marine Toys for Tots for its efficiency in delivering hope to underprivileged children.
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36 Reviews

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Alexandra Hernandez Phoenix, AZ

HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE. First time trying since i was in desperate need. Application was submitted back in October of 2022 for December of 2022. It was the day for us to pick up our bags and come to find out when I pulled up I had a sheriff yelling at me “ it’s closed! You should have received an email. NO MORE TOYS.” Let alone this event opened up at 9:30am and I had got there at 10:40am! I was turned away with no apology no explanation nothing!!! I was told I was going to still hear from them and NEVER did

2 months ago

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alee8kailei San Francisco, CA

For three years now, I've had to rely on Toy's for Tots. The first year, I chalked up the McDonalds happy meal toys along with quarter machine toys that were given and was grateful to others having a hard year as well. Because I see all the great toys donated at the Toys for Tots centers and thought ok, maybe I just got a bad batch. Last year, I again received used toys, which I donated back, and didn't bother with a tree or decorations. Again, this year, my bag was filled with McDonald's happy meal toys, used dolls missing shoes with writings all over them, and a few $0.25 machine items, temp tattoos , etc. I'm grateful for anything given, but if you are going to take the time to choose a name to donate to, then feel it's ok to give toys that are used, bought from happy meals, or from bubble gum machines, don't bother. I asked for help to make their Christmas magical, or at least worth putting a tree up for, although they know the real meaning. This time of year is magical to children, but to receive happy meal toys etc., no thanks. I'd rather receive nothing to give them what Toys for Tots has been giving. Just so you know, I met someone that works within the company a few years ago and the over abundance of DECENT toys she gave my children after the season was over was amazing. I thought, well my goodness, why are these all left over toys? And because of that, when struggling these past few years, along with seeing the awesome toys that were donated, it blows my mind that happy meal toys and quarter machine toys, used books, dolls with stains and missing parts, were all part of the 5-6 items donated per child for my 2 child family home. So glad I didn't put up a tree again this year and told my children Santa is still scared of Covid, and now the flu and rsv, and that's the reason for no celebration this year. How humiliating to even ask for help, but then to go to wrap presents and they are nothing but trash, so much more humiliating carrying that black trash bag home with excitement and joy in my own heart, just to be disappointed. Where are all those good toys I saw in the Toys For Tots boxes going? Back to the stores for a refund? Please, PLEASE, tell those who are willing to 'donate', to not donate used toys. Or quarter machine toys. Or happy meal toys. Don't donate at all if this is all you have to offer. Maybe it's a social thing to make them feel better amongst their peers. If you are going to brag, make sure to let them know you are donating trash first...😞

3 months ago

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Paige Marie Clearfield, PA

It was like they gave us trash and a quick walk throug Dollar General. Fruit snacks. A used stuffed animal that was ruined. Some cheap toy tablet with Chinese writing on it. Two packs of UNO cards. Four dolls for my ten month old. Yet inside there was a bunch of brand new bicycles, an electric car thing, etc. Bet those aren't going to any of the real applicants.

3 months ago

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Angel Ellicott City, MD

First year applying for toys- I usually donate every year but this year I needed some help. I drove 35 mins from baltimore county to baltimore city for the pick up location. Waited from 5:30-8:30 pm with my 2 1/2 year old in the car he slept most of the time but woke up after two hours and a half so then I had to deal with a cranky toddler who had been in the car way too long. When I got to the front they told me have a goodnight and I responded I didn’t get anything yet. I was asked to sign a piece of paper I couldn’t read in the dark and given a white trash bag that had two items inside. When I got home I couldn’t have been more upset and disappointed. I waited three hours for baby toys. Items that were for a 6 months old. A foam block that was from the dollar store and a book. 3 hours. Wow

1 year ago

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Kathy Donato ,

I waited from 9-5 at my drop off address. Plus had someone at my new address. No show so I emailed them. At 9pm I get a phone call saying they were here. The lady was very rude to me. Then go to open my door and the bad was thrown at my door and the girl said nothing and ran down the steps. So we received 4 presents. 2 which got broken when the bag was tossed at my door. And the other 2 were for summer. I am beyond devastated I will NEVER request help from toys for tots again. My son has a total of 2 Christmas presents now and had to explain to him what happened and why he will have to wait for more gift the beginning of next month. My heart is broken over this. I really hope No one else experiences this unprofessional behavior. God bless

2 years ago

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FlyHighKittyKat Knoxville, TN

My mother went tonight to go to pick up my sister's presents. She stood in line for two hours for two things. A set of stuffed monkeys that came from the dollar store and a purse that looked like something an old lady would carry. Neither of these things being something my 10 year old sister would use. My mom was signed up and there on time and there was people walking out of there with two bikes and helmets and a bag full of toys also. Toys for tots does not make anything fair for these kids. Were not the type to complain or be ungrateful but theres plenty of kids in need this year. Why do something big for one family and not make it fair? That's absolutely wrong.

2 years ago

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anonymus Parkville, MD

I signed up for Toys for Tots this year for my child. I think this the worst charity program in Baltimore county. The organization who runs the program only give toys to who they want. It was so unorganized. You stood in line for 2 hours with your kids just to go inside of a door that the call by last initials so people who were in line behind you comes forward. The organization gave the good toys to who they wanted to. Also whoever complained they got nasty with because they were not treating people fairly. They decided this year to let their kids pick out the toys for the kids of people they didn't know in which they picked whatever they saw first without a care in the world for the kids they were going to. At the end I ended up spending 4 hours at the establishment and it was a complete waste of my time. The chief's son gave ma a bag with three little toys in which I got home and my one year old can't even play with sand or play dough.

3 years ago

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Moe Parkville, MD

Out of all those donations my 1 year old son god I item which was a box of tiny LEGO’s which is something he could choke on and a stuffed animal!!! I really believe the people giving out the toys or making those bags are keeping items for themselves because it’s no way I stood in that long line for 1 items!! This was in Baltimore ,Md and I’m highly upset about!Of course my kids already had things this was just to add to what I had already brought.My daughter got like 4 cheesy items to the point when I left there I went back to Walmart and spent about 200 more dollars!!!This was just a waste of gas and time!!

3 years ago

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Meranda Alexander Villa Rica, GA

This year has been one of the worst experience I have ever had with Toys for Tots. I signed up in October and on my application I specifically asked for bikes for my grandkids and was first told they ran out and then I was told the Carrollton Georgia location wasn't allocated to get any bikes this year. I am a working grandmother and my grandkids father who is my son is incarcerated so the Toys for Tots really used to help. No only did they not have the bikes they didn't give me anything for my grandson. My question is we're is all of the toys being sent. Something is not right for sure.

1 year ago

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I was asking to sign up my 12 and 14 year old. I was belittled and made to feel like I was trash to ask for help. When I just told them forget it and delete my application they then said I done this because they asked for documentation. I have documentation, the birth certificates and anything they needed to prove I was mom and their ages. THEY DID THIS BECAUSE I TOLD THEM I WOULD LET EVERYONE SEE A COPY OF THEIR EMAILS. I HAVE WROTE THE MAIN TOYS FOR TOTS PROGRAM HEADQUARTERS AND I HAVE WROTE TO ALL PLACES WORKING WITHEM SUCH AS LIFETIME.

1 year ago

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Family Of 8 New Caney, TX

Signed up on first day of registration and still got turned back.. Lady in Conroe TX was so rude.. Never received an emails or call back for my kids toys.. Very disappointed, now my kids will be without presents.. Thank you toys for tots!

1 year ago

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Alvin Kelley North Charleston, SC

The school my grandkids go to, signed them up for your program and said y'all would be delivering them some toys Christmas morning" today" and y'all didn't show up and they didn't have a very good Christmas. For that I will never give to and I will tell everyone I know what kind of program y'all run.

3 years ago