The following was written for the William & Mary Mason School of Business MBA news blog by Gavin P. Smith – December, 2012:
Part of the overall “MBA experience” at the Mason School of Business involves making valuable connections to our community. At Mason, we encourage and develop future leaders of tomorrow through student government activities, club and committee involvement, leadership development mentoring, executive partner coaching and team-building. It is incumbent upon the leaders of tomorrow to not only strive to build better businesses, products and services, but also to build a better community. It should always be our goal to “leave things a bit better than we found them”. This has been my mantra for all of my professional and academic life.
For the past decade or more, I have strongly supported the Marine Corps Toys 4 Tots Foundation. The Marine Corps Toys 4 Tots effort began in 1947. Since then, they have coordinated numerous toy drives to provide tens of millions of toys to needy children valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Exact figures reveal that they have collected more than 452 million toys, providing them to more than 209 million needy children. They have supplemented local collections with more than 98 million toys valued at over $694 million.
For most of us, our favorite childhood memories feature waking up to plenty of toys beneath a tree on Christmas morning. Even though my parents struggled much during my childhood, they always found a way to provide me with a Christmas to enjoy. For that, I consider myself very fortunate and blessed. This is, however, not the case for millions of American children living in poverty.
The Marine Corps Toys 4 Tots mission is to “provide a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas” with the goal of delivering “through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them into becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.” Throughout the years, notable dignitaries and celebrities have endorsed or aided the Marine Corps Toys 4 Tots effort, including former President Ronald Reagan, celebrity Bob Hope and current First Lady Michelle Obama. You can see a lengthy list of supporters here:
Our program greatly encourages community service. Our students show major enthusiasm for giving back. Given this, and the presence of our military fellows in the program, I thought it would be ideal to introduce an annual Toys 4 Tots drive to the Mason School of Business. Last year, I decided to find some other interested students to help coordinate a toy drive. We started small, focusing only on first and second year MBA classes. I was overwhelmed with how many toys we were able to raise in such a short time.
Based on the success of last year, I decided to once again arrange for a Toys 4 Tots drive this Christmas. As my last act as MBA student and President of the MBA Association, I worked with other students and expanded our effort by reaching out to the entire Mason community. This included soliciting all full-time, executive and flex MBA students, MAcc students, undergraduate business students, faculty, staff and executive partners.
Once again, I was overwhelmed by the response. We filled two to three large boxes full of toys!
As I left Miller Hall for the last time, my last duty was to gather all of the toys for collection. While I was overcome with joy, it was also a bittersweet moment for me. That day was the same day as the Newtown, Connecticut incident where children aged 5-10 years old were gunned down. Those twenty children will not have a Christmas this year and we mourn their loss. Such a horrible tragedy reminds us how very important it is to put smiles on the faces of all children in need. For those of you with children or grandchildren, nephews or nieces, make sure to give them an extra hug and treasure them this Christmas. For needy children everywhere, think about helping the Marine Corps Toys 4 Tots make a huge impact this holiday.
Again, a hearty thank you to everyone involved for making this year’s Marine Corps Toys 4 Tots drive another success. I hope that future classes can build on what we have started. As an alumnus, I intend to encourage all of our Mason alumni to get involved and grow this effort in the years ahead. I hope you will all join me in that effort to continue to put a smile on the face of needy children every Christmas.
Archived link of original post on the William & Mary Mason School of Business MBA news blog here: https://web.archive.org/web/20140116234217/http://blog.wmschoolofbusiness.com/marine-corps-toys-4-tots-annual-christmas-toy-drive/