U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program
MISSION: The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots 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.
GOAL: The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a shiny new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.
Toys for Tots rejects talking Jesus dolls
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A talking Jesus doll has been turned down by the Marine Reserves' Toys for Tots program.
A Los Angeles company offered to donate 4,000 of the 1-foot-tall dolls, which quote Bible verses, for distribution to needy children this holiday season.
The battery-powered Jesus is one of several dolls manufactured by one2believe, a division of the Valencia-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co., based on biblical figures. (Watch to see and hear the Bible-quoting dolls -- 1:52)
But the charity balked because of the dolls' religious nature.
Toys are donated to kids based on financial need and "we don't know anything about their background, their religious affiliations," said Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Virginia.
As a government entity, Marines "don't profess one religion over another," Grein said Tuesday. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."
Michael La Roe, director of business development for both companies, said the charity's decision left him "surprised and disappointed."
"The idea was for them to be three-dimensional teaching tools for kids," La Roe said. "I believe as a churchgoing person, anyone can benefit from hearing the words of the Bible."
According to the company's Web site, the button-activated, bearded Jesus, dressed in hand-sewn cloth outfits and sandals, recites Scripture such as "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." It has a $20 retail value.
Grein questioned whether children would welcome a gift designed for religious instruction.
"Kids want a gift for the holiday season that is fun," he said.
The program distributed 18 million stuffed animals, games, toy trucks and other gifts to children in 2005.
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