FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS -- In keeping with the Holiday spirit of giving, the U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center (USAMITC) Sustainment Division recently completed a Toys for Tots drive.

Toys for Tots is a program founded and run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves that donates toys to children whose parents can't afford to buy Christmas gifts for them. And although Toys for Tots is a Marine Reserve initiative, anyone, anywhere, can participate in the program. Marvin Baker, USAMITC's Sustainment Division Chief and a retired Army First Sergeant, has donated to Toys for Tots for more than 20 years, both while on active duty and as a civilian. "I'm a humble guy from humble beginnings, and to me, the bottom-line is about giving back," said Baker. When he became Sustainment Division Chief in 2009, he extended his spirit of giving to the entire division by placing a donation box for toys in a common area so that everyone wanting to contribute toys could conveniently do so.

Marine Reservist Maj. William L. Hendricks started Toys for Tots as a Los Angeles charity effort in 1947 when his wife, Diane, crafted a homemade doll and asked to deliver it to an organization which would give it to a needy child at Christmas. When Maj. Hendricks determined that no such agency existed, his wife suggested that he start one, which he did. Inspired by his wife, Hendricks gathered a group of other local Marine reservists who, along with himself, coordinated and collected about 5000 toys that year for local children by placing collection bins outside of Warner Brothers movie theaters.

Their efforts were so successful that, in 1948, Toys for Tots was introduced as a national campaign. Hendricks, who was the Director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio, used his position to enlist celebrity support and to have Walt Disney Studios design the red toy train logo.

In 1991, the Secretary of Defense authorized the creation and affiliation of Toys for Tots with the non-profit charity foundation. Then, in 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve.

During the 2011 Sustainment Division Toys for Tots Drive, an overwhelming number of employees from other USAMITC divisions asked if they could contribute also. So an announcement was made at that point to the command as a whole inviting anyone who wanted to contribute toys to the drive to participate. "The response was phenomenal," said Charon Guy, Sustainment Division's Management Assistant. "Contributions have been made from every division and office. We had to get a second oversized box to accommodate the donations," she added.

The USAMITC Sustainment Division Toys for Tots drive begins a week before Thanksgiving and ends right before Christmas every year. Toys donated on the drives are taken to the nearest Marine Toys for Tots drop off point, which in USAMITC's case is the Navy Operational Support Center located by Brooke Army Medical Center. Toys gathered are "distributed as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted," according to the Toys for Tots national mission. Therefore, toys gathered at USAMITC's Toys for Tots Drive are likewise distributed to needy children in the local San Antonio area.

The Toys for Tots goal is to "deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive and patriotic citizens."