LOWCOUNTRY EDITION

​How can the community get involved?

We rely on community support and donations. If you or your business would like to get involved, please visit and register on our official website: Charleston-SC.ToysForTots.org.
  

Jennifer Iamele Savage is a transformational life coach and a secondary Montessori educator. Passionate about raising consciousness, Savage uses these containers to help people find their voice and empower them to utilize their resources. Connect with her at Jen@InspirationAndBliss.com or InspirationAndBliss.com. ​​

The Giving Spirit in Charleston: An Interview with Sgt. Brandon Ogden, 2017 Charleston Toys for Tots Coordinator
by Jennifer Iamele Savage


​​What is your mission for this season’s Toys for Tots?

Christmas is right around the corner and the Marines in Charleston are gearing up for the 2017 Toys for Tots campaign. Every year since 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps has collected new, unwrapped toys and distributed them as Christmas gifts to millions of less fortunate children all throughout the U.S. Assistance from Toys for Tots (T4T) continues to be in high demand as the lowcountry’s population and poverty rates increase. 

We greatly appreciate every single company that has ever participated in our annual toy drives and fundraisers! Involvement and contributions from local companies are absolutely crucial in our efforts to successfully bring the joy of Christmas to thousands of underprivileged children within the lowcountry. Last year, more than 80 percent of the toys collected were donated by companies from the local area. However, less than 3 percent of businesses in Charleston were involved with Toys for Tots. With a little help from more local businesses, this year's campaign could leave a long-lasting, positive impact on so many local families in need.    ​​


How did the organization come to be?

T4T began in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks, of the U.S. Marine Corps, founded it in Los Angeles, California. They collected 5,000 toys that year! The program went international in 1959. Since then the program has expanded, and there have been countless children and families positively impacted. (For more information about T4T’s rich and in-depth history, visit the website below.)

How do you serve the lowcountry?We provide toys for less-fortunate children and adults with disabilities, which make their mind that of a child. We promote the true Christmas spirit and give a chance for Christmas to truly be experienced, especially for the ones who might not otherwise have a Christmas. 


​What are some of the greatest success stories?

We are blessed to have countless success stories from the families we help and serve. Perhaps a good story to include that sums up our experience here comes from last year’s toy coordinator, Staff Sgt. Justin Golden: 

“Right before Charleston County schools dismissed for Christmas break, I collected a huge box of toys and personally delivered it to a class of special needs children at James Island Elementary School. You should have seen the looks on the kids’ faces when I showed up wearing my Marine Corps uniform and started handing out all sorts of toys! They were so genuinely excited; it literally brought tears of joy to my eyes. I had clearly interrupted their lesson that day, but trust me, they didn’t mind at all. I had an awesome time with those little guys and it was tough saying goodbye, but I left knowing that I had made a difference, and I don’t recall ever being so proud of myself. After Christmas break, their teacher called to express her gratitude, and she requested I return next year. She mentioned a student whose family couldn’t afford to buy him anything for Christmas and how he was so glad I gave him a soccer ball and some Legos because those were the only presents he received. When I heard that, it broke my heart into a hundred pieces. It made me want to do more because these little kids deserve a better life. If I can help a classroom full of kids by myself, imagine what an entire city can do to help. We have to do more.”