Kurland Insurance works with the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation to collect and distribute toys and gifts to less fortunate children across the U.S. each Christmas season. To cast your vote, use the social media buttons to share this story, or leave a comment below. If they reach 500 votes, the $5,000 donation they’ve already earned doubles to $10,000!
A beloved institution since 1947, the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation is synonymous with Christmas cheer. The foundation helps run and support the Toys for Tots program by raising funds, buying and collecting toys, managing community outreach and much more. It distributes about 18 million toys to seven million less fortunate children annually. In addition, the Toys for Tots Literacy Program helps kids succeed in school year-round and in life through direct access to books and other educational resources.
A year-round effort
Led by agency owners Matt and Mona Kurland, Kurland Insurance and its employees have supported Toys for Tots since 2010. A big part of their effort includes connecting with other local businesses to facilitate drop-off and pick-up locations for collection boxes all over the south suburbs of Chicago. Once the boxes have been collected, the agency delivers the toys to the Marines unit in Chicago where they are sorted before being distributed to families.
Kurland Insurance’s involvement isn’t confined to the holiday season, however. Along with working throughout the year enlisting other businessowners to participate, the agency begins distributing boxes in early November to ensure that gifts will arrive for the kids in time for Christmas.
Initially, Matt and Mona collected the donated toys in their garage. But with the total number of toys and books increasing each year, more storage space was soon needed. A solution came in 2018 when the agency’s office building manager generously pulled through to arrange for extra storage space during the toy drives.
Giving the gift of reading
According to a 2001 study, the availability of books in low-income neighborhoods is about one book per 300 children. This is in stark contrast to the roughly 13 books per child available in middle-class neighborhoods. Providing children’s books to low-income families gives kids a fun and educational way to close the reading gap, improve their academic success and help break the cycle of poverty.
Mona Kurland picks up a donation of books to fuel the Toys for Tots Literacy Program.
Providing books to kids in low-income communities became even more challenging during the pandemic. So, to further extend a helping hand, Kurland Insurance launched its first book drive campaign in 2021, the “Christmas in July” project, to help bring awareness of the Toys for Tots Literacy Program. This allows the foundation to purchase and donate books to kids before the school year starts. “Helping deliver Christmas gifts to kids is a special mission for us,” said USMC Staff Sgt. Michael Buebe, the Joliet Toys for Tots Coordinator. “But building literacy by delivering books during the summer is the gift that lasts a lifetime in the form of knowledge, confidence and imagination. Every dollar we help to raise for this program puts a book into the hands of a deserving child.”
“Building literacy is the gift that lasts a lifetime in the form of knowledge, confidence and imagination.”
– USMC Staff Sgt. Michael Buebe, Joliet Toys for Tots Coordinator
The Kurland Insurance office in Orland Park, Ill., with full toy boxes ready to donate to Toys for Tots.
Kindness comes full circle
Several years ago, a client responded to Kurland Insurance’s request for support with a particularly generous donation. With tears in her eyes, the client explained how Toys for Tots had given gifts to her adopted child years before, making it a Christmas to remember. “Reciprocating kindness and generosity are at the core of Toys for Tots,” said marketing director Mona Kurland. “The program is about more than toys. It’s about showing love and support to deserving kids in our community.”
“Toys for Tots is about more than toys. It’s about showing love and support to deserving kids in our community.”
– Mona Kurland, Marketing Director, Kurland Insurance
Increasing the Foundation’s impact
As a nonprofit organization coordinated by the Marines, the USMC Toys for Tots Foundation is often short on funds for supplies and collection efforts. If awarded, a $10,000 donation from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance would help buy toys for kids, build more collection boxes to meet demand and support the Toys for Tots Literacy Program.