How to Donate a Toy to Toys for Tots

There are dozens of ways to give toys to families in need

donation box of toys

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

You can make a difference for a family in need who lives in your community during the holiday season by contributing to Toys for Tots. Organizations like Toys for Tots coordinate toy donation drives, so children can receive a few new popular toys, books, and other gifts during the giving season.

Toys for Tots is a nationwide charitable organization, organized by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, whose offices coordinate donations in each state. Toys for Tots gifts are given directly to individual families, as well as to nonprofit organizations that assist people in need.

A local Marine in your community is in charge of organizing the Toys for Tots campaign. Toys for Tots collections occur from October through early December. To donate, purchase a new, unwrapped toy for a child between the ages of newborn and 16. Then, find a local drop-off location, or host a toy drop-off event.

Selecting Types of Toys to Donate

While there are many lists of popular toys for kids of all ages, there is no donation wish list for Toys for Tots. Popular toy categories include sporting equipment, books, backpacks, board games, radio control cars/trucks, hand-held electronics, and skateboards/helmets. Do not give toys that look like realistic weapons or food items.

Finding a Drop-Off Location

Organizations including Build-A-Bear Workshop, doctor's offices, car dealerships, police stations, and local libraries usually serve as Toys for Tots drop-off locations in communities. In addition, organizations that are drop-off locations might have other ways to help families. For instance, Build-A-Bear Workshop donates its own bears to families in need.

Hosting a Drop-Off Location

You can host your own drop-off location by planning an event at your home, workplace, or other community location. Encourage friends to stop by and donate an unwrapped toy. You can even make it a part of an upcoming holiday gathering or a birthday party. If you have children, you can involve them in the donation process by contacting the Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other youth community service groups to encourage them to host a drive of their own.

Making Other Donations

If you aren't sure what to buy or prefer to skip a trip to a store, you can donate money online using a credit card. Donations can also be made online in memory of or as a tribute to someone. Those giving an in-memoriam donation will receive a personalized card as a thank you. Monetary donations can be made at any time throughout the year, not just during the holiday season.

If you sell used toys on eBay, you can donate 10% to 100% of your final sale price to the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation. Donors can receive tax deductions, as well as a credit on eBay selling fees.

Furthermore, if you have an old car, truck, or recreational vehicle that you no longer want, you can donate that vehicle to Toys for Tots and claim a tax deduction for your donation. Toys for Tots will sell the vehicle, and those proceeds will benefit the organization.

Volunteering Your Time and Resources

Many Toys for Tots locations benefit from people who volunteer their time to help the organization. For instance, you can volunteer to sort toys, or you can drop off signage and collection bins at retail locations. In addition, Toys for Tots often needs restaurants and individuals to donate food for volunteers. Contact your local organization to learn about its available volunteer opportunities.