Burke Family Goes All Out with Toys for Tots

Burke Family Goes All Out with Toys for Tots

Tradition spreads to embrace the holiday spirit with a lesson of empathy.

Tricia Williams, son Bryson and daughter Ainsley at the Long & Foster office in Burke.

Tricia Williams, son Bryson and daughter Ainsley at the Long & Foster office in Burke.

It all started in the June-July timeframe when Tricia Williams started keeping her eye open for good deals on toys, Legos and stuffed animals that might make someone’s holiday brighter through the Toys for Tots program. When early December rolled around, a corner in their Burke house was full of toys and it took two car loads to get them down to the Long & Foster office around the corner.

The Williams family makes this part of the holiday season every year. “I usually start in June,” she said. “I always keep my eyes out,” she added. 

Every year, for over 30 years now, Long & Foster has supported the Toys for Tots program by serving as a collection site leading up to the holiday season. While they are always grateful for the generosity of the local community, the William’s family came through this year. 

“The mother, Tricia, son Bryson and daughter Ainsley all came into our office last week and dropped off over 40 toys that they had collected throughout the year for the sole purpose of donating to Toys for Tots. It was so heartwarming to see how excited the kids were. The whole family was genuinely happy to be able to make a difference for those in our area who are in need,” said office manager Christine Zinser, who looked at the William’s effort as a story to highlight the true meaning of the season.

It started when the William’s showed up at the office with a car full of toys and others from the surrounding community joined in too. “My daughter got a few of her friends to donate as well,” Tricia Williams said.

Tricia Williams has supported Toys for Tots for years, and loves that her children are now part of it too. Everyone benefits. “It teaches empathy, makes it easier to understand if there was no toys for Christmas,” she said.

There were so many toys they collected, it took two trips and others joined in to help out too. Ainsley attends Laurel Ridge School in Fairfax, and son Bryson is a student at Lake Braddock. It doesn’t stop with the toy donation though. The family puts their energy into the decorations and lights and more, and Tricia is even keeping her eye out for volunteer opportunities for the whole family. “We don’t tone it down,” she said.

Wish List Grew

Toys for Tots began in 1947 by Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks and his wife Diane in Los Angeles, their information stated. The first toy was a handmade doll, and it grew from there. In 1949, Hollywood got involved with some big names like John Wayne, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, Sammy Davis Jr., and through the years, up and coming stars like Clint Eastwood and Brooke Shields participated. First Ladies, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, served in the past as National Toys for Tots Spokespersons.

From 1947 through Christmas 1979, Marines collected and distributed both new and used toys.  Reservists refurbished used toys on drill weekends until 1980 when the Marines started collecting and distributing new toys only. 2016 was the second-best year ever experienced with total revenue of over $280 million.