One of my favorite things about this time of year is Toys for Tots. And it can be traced right back to one man, Chuck Richards.

What feels like forever ago, I did my first radio remote at Richards and Rochelle to help promote Toys for Tots. Chuck and Ernie were incredibly kind, and they provided me with more information than I could possibly get on the air.

I will never forget two things from that first year, the history of Toys for Tots (more on that in a moment) and the basement. I remember when I wrapped up that first remote all those years ago, I gathered the notebook and all the information Chuck had provided, and as I was thanking him for everything, he asked me if I wanted to see the basement.

The basement was the center of Southwest Montana Toys for Tots, I remember walking down the stairs into every kid’s dream, toys as far as the eye could see. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, nothing but toys. The effort that is put in every year by an army of volunteers will never be lost on me. It’s incredible.

Toys for Tots stuffed animals townsquare media

Toys for Tots started in 1947 when Diane Hendricks, wife of Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks, made several handcrafted dolls with her group of friends, and asked Bill to get them to an agency that would deliver them to kids in need.

When Bill could find no such organization, Diane responded “Start one!”. Major Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys in 1947. Today, the Marine Toys for Tots Program distributes an average of 18 million toys a year.

Locally there are many ways that you can help. You can drop off new unwrapped toys, at any of the locations spread throughout SW Montana. (list below) You can also drop off cash (or check) donations at the cash box located at several businesses around the area.

Talking to the volunteers, one of the groups that has been overlooked this year is Girls ages 10-14, so if you plan on donating maybe think about that age when you make your purchases. Even better, if you have girls that age have them shop for girls their own age!

If you want to drop a check into the collection boxes you can make it out to : Toys for Tots. Down on the Note write : SW MT MCL Det#724  (That is our local Marine Corps League Detachment #)

Toys Box- townsquare media

Some of the drop box locations are: Butte Courthouse, Ace Hardware, Bank of Butte, Bob Wards, Butte Gm, Butte Subaru, Butte GM. You can drop toys off at the Fire Station #1, First Citizens Bank, I don’t know café, Murdoch’s, Northwestern Energy, Both Safeway locations, Staples, Star Lanes, Starbucks, Triple S, True Value and Walmart.

Some of the Butte Money box locations are: 5518 Design, Courthouse, Crazy Carols, Hanging 5, Headframe Spirits, MacKenzie River, McQueen Club, Metals Sports Bar, Park Street Liquor, Sparkys, Triple S, and the Party Palace.

In Whitehall you can donate at the Drug Store, Family Dollar, Jefferson IGA, Rocky Mountain Bank, Stageline Pizza, and Star Theatre.

Dillon, Twin Bridges, and Sheridan also have drop/donation spots.

Toys for Tots needs our help to make sure that every kid has a very merry Christmas.

LOOK: The top holiday toys from the year you were born

With the holiday spirit in the air, it’s the perfect time to dive into the history of iconic holiday gifts. Using national toy archives and data curated by The Strong from 1920 to today, Stacker searched for products that caught hold of the public zeitgeist through novelty, innovation, kitsch, quirk, or simply great timing, and then rocketed to success.

More From 95.5 KMBR