With the Halloween celebration in the rearview mirror, attention now focuses on the upcoming November and December holidays, with some people and organizations working at different speeds to get there.
Christmas decorations and products have found their way on to shopping shelves in many retail stores, while some families are discussing when and how to decorate their homes ... already.
Locally, Morris Nursery kicked off its holiday season with a special open house last week, before Halloween, and then announced that it will again be a collection point in Riverbank for supporters of the Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots campaign.
As a nursery spokesman said, “It is our pleasure to once again be a drop-off point for Toys for Tots! We appreciate any and all donations of new, unwrapped toys for this wonderful organization.”
Donations may be dropped off anytime during standard business hours at the nursery.
Those hours are Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may, however, vary with the weather.
Morris Nursery is at 1837 Patterson Road, Highway 108, on the west end of Riverbank.
Toys for Tots began as a Los Angeles charitable effort in 1947. Major Bill Hendricks, United States Marine Corps Reserve, 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 through which to do so.
At her suggestion, Hendricks gathered a group of local Marine reservists, including Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton, who coordinated and collected some 5,000 toys for local children that year from collection bins placed outside Warner Bros. movie theaters.
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, and 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.
The collection now requests new, unwrapped toys for a variety of ages, toys for both boys and girls.