The Marine Corps Reserve Lakeshore Toys for Tots services an area of approximately 5,500 square miles, which includes all Ottawa County, all of Allegan county, and Van Buren County county. The major cities in this area are Grand Haven, Holland, Allendale, Hudsonville, Jenison, Zeeland, Allegan, and South Haven.
The Lakeshore Toys for Tots was started by Gunnery Sergeant Edward Lopez in 1990.That year, he collected 500 toys and he and his wife distributed them.He continued collecting and distributing toys in the Lakeshore area using the Marines in his command from the Marine Corps Reserve Center in Battle Creek, Michigan.His collections grew in the years between 1990 and 1997.In 1998, the Marine Corps League - Shoreline Detachment was formed.The League and its members then became a sponsor for Lakeshore Toys for Tots.Members started assisting Gunny Lopez with his collections and distributions.The collections grew considerably.
After Gunny Lopez retired from the Marine Corps, the Lakeshore Toys for Tots became a Community Organization.This allowed for members that had not served in the Marine Corps.The Lakeshore Toys for Tots still has approximately 50% Marine membership, but there are now also very dedicated non-Marine members who serve the Lakeshore children.
The Lakeshore Marines built several floats, and started doing more public appearances and events.Each year there was a significant increase in both the toys collected and the children served.
The Lakeshore Toys for Tots relies on the non-profit organizations in the local community to distribute the collected toys to the needy children.These organizations know the need and people in the local communities.
We also depend on the generosity of the community for success in our mission.West Michigan people understand hardship, and know the need to support those that are struggling financially during the Christmas season.This generosity has shown in our collection results.
The Lakeshore Toys for Tots starts distributing collection boxes the last part of October and the first part of November.Last year, we distributed boxes in 600 businesses , and worked with over 20 companies for their internal collections.