Mark your calanders for Great Lakes Jeep Thing's 13th annual 4X4 Toys for Tots Parade!
Sunday December 11th, 2011
Line up begins at 8:00am
Start time 10:00am (be there early!)
Start point McCormick Place parking lot "B'. Located off the 31st street exit
Great Lakes Jeep Thing
For additional info: [email protected]
IMPORTANT: Entry fee is at least one BRAND NEW toy in the original packaging (sorry no stuffed animals or toy guns). Please do not ask to participate if you are empty handed.
In 1947, Marine Corps reservist Major William L. Hendricks and Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton stumbled on a novel idea in the Los Angeles area - place collection bins outside of Warner Bros. movie theaters to collect new and used toys for boys and girls whose parents could not afford to buy them Christmas gifts. Their effort collected some 5000 toys for local children that year. The following year, Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign for the United States Marine Corps Reserve. In the years since its inception, much has changed but the message and the mission remains the same.
The mission of the program “is to collect new, unwrapped toys to distribute as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.” The stated goal is to "deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens."
What’s notable is the support the Toys for Tots has garnered from local businesses and major corporations to various organizations and clubs across the country. This is where Great Lakes Jeep Thing enters the picture with its support for Toys for Tots. About 12 years ago, wanting to step up and offer their contribution to a worthy cause, the members of GLJT organized the first Jeep 4x4 Parade. During those early years, participation was limited to GLJT members, family, and friends that knew of the club's activities. This only garnered 15-20 Jeeps, but that didn’t stop them from loading up their vehicles with toys for needy children at the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve base on Foster in Chicago. This went on for a number of years, fluctuating from a dozen to a few dozen vehicles. In 2003, something special happened. Through word of mouth and exposure through the GLJT website, our little event officially exploded into something larger and much grander than what it started out as with - a parade of over 250 vehicles participated to show their support for Toys for Tots. The years since, support from over 20 clubs and hundreds of individuals has contributed to a cause that does so much good for needy children throughout the Chicagoland area. These days, the GLJT Toys for Tots parade is something that belongs to the 4x4 community as a whole. One only needs to walk through the aisles upon aisles of vehicles to see the variety of 4x4’s, from stockers to show vehicles and everything in between.
Though it is not a requirement, we do encourage everyone to add their own bit of holiday spirit to their vehicles. Let’s face it; no parade is complete without them. Every year we have participants who have gone all out decorating their vehicles like Santa’s sleigh, decked out in Christmas lights or even with inflatable decorations on their roofs. If you've never seen a few hundred 4x4's driving along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago decked out in full Christmas regalia, well let me tell you, it is certainly a site to behold. So the question is, will YOU be the person who has the most decorated vehicle at this year’s parade?
This also leads up to the other things participants are encouraged to do. While the entry fee is at least one brand new toy (still in the original packaging, no stuffed animals or toy guns please), we encourage participants to bring more than just one. Participants are always welcome to come with their vehicle loaded top to bottom with donations from family, friends or co-workers. We encourage anyone wishing to participate to find their own creative ways to solicit donations for this worthy cause.
As in past years, we’ll be starting at McCormick Place’s parking lot “B” located near 31st and Lake Shore Drive. Line up will begin at 8:00 a.m. so be sure to arrive early for the best spot in line. We’ll have a brief driver's meeting at about 9:45 a.m. explaining the parade route, along with the do’s and don’ts. For those in attendance with a CB radio, we’ll be operating on channel 4. At 10:00 a.m. sharp, we’ll be departing the parking lot and head north on Lake Shore Drive to Foster Avenue. We’ll exit at Foster and rally at the forest preserve by the lake before heading west on Foster to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve base near Kedzie Avenue for the toy drop off.
So make sure to block off Sunday December 11th, 2011 on your calendars and join us for this wonderful event. Not only will you be participating in a worthy cause, you aid in bringing hope to children this holiday season.