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Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The program was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks.

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity located in Triangle, Virginia, serves to fund, raise funds for, and support the program.

Toys for Tots began as a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947. Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR, was inspired by his wife Diane when she tried to donate a homemade Raggedy Ann doll to a needy child but couldn’t find any organization to do so. At her suggestion, he gathered a group of local Marine reservists, including Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton,[3] who coordinated and collected some 5,000 toys for local children that year from collection bins placed outside Warner Bros. movie theaters.[3] Their efforts were so successful that, in 1948, Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign. Hendricks used his position as director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio to enlist celebrity support, as well as have Walt Disney Studios design the red toy train logo. A theme song for the program was written in 1956 by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, and would be recorded by Nat King Cole, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, among others.

Until 1979, Marine reservists (frequently in their dress blue uniforms) and volunteers would collect and refurbish used toys. In 1980, only new toys were accepted, as reservists were no longer able to dedicate drill hours to refurbish toys, as well as legal concerns and the mixed message of giving hand-me-downs as a message of hope.

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

Noting in 1996 that many communities did not have a Marine reservist presence, the commander of the Marine Forces Reserve authorized Marine Corps League detachments and other local organizations to fill the gaps in toy collection and distribution.

In 2009, the program received support from First Lady Michelle Obama, who placed the first collection box at the White House.[6] In December 2011, she took part in a Toys for Tots activity at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.

As of 2016, the Toys for Tots Program and Foundation have collected and distributed more than 512 million toys.

The mission of the program “is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”

The stated 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.”
Notable achievements

2003 Outstanding Nonprofit Organization of the Year
Reader’s Digest Best Children’s Charity of 2003
One of the top 10 charities of 2003 on the Forbes “Gold Star” list.
Charity Navigator four star ratings in both 2005 and 2006.

For more information, please visit our local chapter

St. Louis Challenger Baseball started in 1994 with the main focus being to make friends. Founder Buck Smith had an urge to give back. He hatched the idea after reading a story about a program in Connecticut that was an offshoot of Little League, tailored to meet the needs of players with developmental disabilities. Using the program as a guide, he threw out the rule book, opening the league to anyone with a developmental disability from age 5 to 90. Each player gets to bat every inning, each team gets an adult pitcher and if needed some can hit off a tee. Everybody runs the bases, some with the help of a volunteer buddy, and all under the supervision of a team coach. (Buddies are kids and young adults between the ages of 10 and 25 who don’t have a disability).  There are no outs, there is no score, everyone hits, everyone runs, everyone wins.

When Buck first introduced Challenger Baseball he had put a small ad in the newspaper and had about 15 players show up and the chaos began. A local softball team volunteered as buddies and helped organize the game, as up until that point it was just running around without direction as how to get everything going. As word spread, families in nearby counties wanted to participate, and today, at least 66 teams and over 800 players participate in Challenger Baseball in the Bi-State area. Leagues have formed now outside of the original St. Louis group, who play every spring at Tilles Park. Leagues in Madison County Illinois, St. Genevieve County, Pike County, Sikeston, Farmington, Ranken Jordan Rehabilitation Hospital, and Franklin County have all now expanded from the one league.

Challenger Baseball provides something to our community that was lacking before. The players flourish in social as well as physical ways. An introverted child can bloom on the field when he hits a ball and a wave of cheers lifts his spirits and makes him feel special. The friends that these players make are lifelong as many of our older players have been playing for 10+ years. The couple hours a week of playing baseball has helped so many players with physical therapy, anger issues, behavoral issues, and anti-social behavior. They can be whoever they want to be on that field. There’s nothing holding them back. They were a homerun hitting, fastest base running baseball player and they won. We all win.

Challenger Baseball depends on the generosity of friends and sponsors to help continue to grow and accommodate every single player who wants to play. They are a grass-roots organization, and have no affiliation with any corporations, foundations, or non-profits. They are a 501(C)(3) organization. The donations they receive go to uniforms that are provided to each player which include a team jersey, pants, socks and a team hat, equipment like batting helmets, many baseballs, bats, gloves, to help with transportation for some players, to help with the All-Star game at Berra Hill, the Awards Picnic, trophies, to help with playing at SLU High School, to play at the River City Rascals Field as well as having a night out their players.

For more information on Challenger Baseball, please visit

  • All requests whether monetary or in kind, shall be made in writing
    • Requests should contain information regarding the event or cause, what the funds will be used for and how this will support the community.
  • Requests should be mailed via USPS, or electronic mail. They can also be presented in person.
  • Requests should be made, at a minimum, prior to the first Thursday of the month in which the donation is required. This will allow time for the board to consider the request.
Operation BBQ Relief

Operation BBQ Relief was founded in May 2011 in response to a need for relief efforts in tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri, a community of about 50,000 residents. Volunteers from competition BBQ teams from eight states answered the need to help feed displaced families, police, fire, National Guard and emergency personnel.


Operation BBQ Relief was able to serve over 120,000 meals over 13 days. Food was delivered to shelters, hospitals, senior living communities and the Humane Society. Volunteers loaded food into vehicles and delivered directly to families in the impacted areas. The operation was made possible by all who contributed food and supplies and funding from across the country.

Operation BBQ Relief continues to respond to natural disasters and other situations to help feed displaced residents and emergency personnel.

The St. Louis BBQ Society believes strongly in this organization which is funded by private donations.  Please join us in supporting this great volunteer organization with a contribution to help them continue their great work.

Please follow this link to their donation page.


President Franklin Roosevelt’s personal struggle with polio led him to create the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis at a time when polio was on the rise. Better known as the March of Dimes, the foundation established a polio patient aid program and funded research for vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, MD and Albert Sabin, MD. These vaccines effectively ended epidemic polio in the United States.

Its original mission accomplished, the foundation turned its focus to preventing birth defects and infant mortality. The March of Dimes has led the way to discover the genetic causes of birth defects, to promote newborn screening, and to educate medical professionals and the public about best practices for healthy pregnancy. We have supported research for surfactant therapy to treat respiratory distress and helped initiate the system of regional neonatal intensive care for premature and sick babies. Our recent Folic Acid Campaign achieved a dramatic reduction in the incidence of neural tube defects, birth defects of the brain and spine.

For more information on the March of Dimes, please visit their website

Started in 1959, The BackStoppers provides needed financial assistance and support to the spouses and dependent children of all police officers, firefighters and volunteer firefighters, and publicly-funded paramedics and EMTs in our coverage area who have lost their lives or suffered a catastrophic injury performing their duty.

The BackStoppers currently assists 81 families with 66 dependent children and has supported 160 families since 1959.
Our Assistance

The BackStoppers’ assistance is immediate and ongoing. Within hours of the death of a police officer, firefighter, publicly-funded paramedic or EMT, his or her family receives a check for $5,000 from The BackStoppers with assurance of further help.

Within a few weeks, The BackStoppers’ representatives meet with the surviving spouse to identify the family’s other financial obligations. The organization’s goal is to make the family debt-free, and then to provide ongoing support for education and other extraordinary expenses.

For more information on  The BackStoppers, please visit their website

Since day one, the St. Louis BBQ Society’s members have looked for ways to utilize their time and talents to help others. Through a combination of dedicated charity cooks and donations raised at sanctioned SLBS events, the St. Louis BBQ Society has donated over $30,000 to local charities.

Listed below are some of the organizations that we have partnered with in the past.

Requests for charitable assistance