MURRAY — Three Marines in dress blues stood next to a large, nearly empty cardboard box Friday at Toys R Us.
They had been in the store for one hour and had already received an in-store donation, they said, which was good because they had the rest of the day to receive additional donations. By the end of the season, they hope to have enough toys to serve kids in the community in need of toys for Christmas.
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation kicked off its annual holiday toy drive Friday, with Marines stationed at select Toys R Us stores throughout the nation.
Toys R Us and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation are celebrating 10 years together as partners. In that time, Toys R Us has collected $31.6 million in donations and 3.75 million toys.
Monetary donations through Toys R Us had reached $514,144 nationwide by late afternoon Friday, according to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation website.
The Marines' goal is to "help out as many people as possible," said Sgt. Charles Maiden, who was at the Murray Toys R Us location.
Their presence at the store was to "let the community know in Salt Lake that the Marine Corps is here," Maiden said.
The Marines received positive reactions from kids they encountered at the store.
"It's a cool thing for us to be able to make kids excited," Lance Cpl. Cameron Clark said.
Entire families can become involved in the #NoWishTooBig social media campaign, according to James Cook, manager of the Murray store.
Toys R Us will donate one toy for each family or child who uploads a picture to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter of them holding a sketch or name of a toy they think a Toys for Tots recipient would want, tagged with #NoWishTooBig, Cook said. The company will donate up to 1 million toys this way.
It's a cool thing for us to be able to make kids excited.
–Lance Cpl. Cameron Clark
Shaquille O'Neal will continue with his role of Shaq-A-Claus, working with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in an effort to encourage more families to donate.
Those who want to donate can select a toy from the Great Big Shaq-A-Claus Wishlist online or visit Toys R Us and Babies R Us locations through Dec. 8. People can also donate money through Christmas Eve at store locations or online.
Toys donated will go to those in need in the community, Cook said, turning Toys for Tots into "an awesome community event."
The Marines will deliver the toys to the kids in need on Christmas.