Despite the pandemic—or perhaps because of it—this year the Santa Clara (County) Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) collected more toys than ever before for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots holiday program.
Mary Roach from Los Gatos pulled into the Saratoga City Hall parking lot on Dec. 4 to drop off a bag of new, unwrapped toys at the DAR’s drive-thru collection point, where a volunteer unloaded the toys from her trunk.
“This is three of my favorite organizations—the DAR, military and kids,” said Roach.
“Everybody gets a spiritual lift by doing this—the DARs, the Marines, kids who get the toys, their parents and me. You build pictures in your mind of the reception of the toys and the joy you bring.”
In past years, the Santa Clara DAR collected toys donated by chapter members at a December lunch. In 2020—unable to throw a holiday party because of pandemic restrictions—they hosted a drive-thru toy collection for the community.
This year, they did both. At a holiday lunch, they filled a Marine van with their own toy donations. Then, on Dec. 4, they hosted a community drive-thru. When it was over at 2 p.m., the Marines arrived and loaded their truck with nine waist-high collection boxes filled with toys.
“We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to expand what we do for Toys for Tots,” said Santa Clara DAR Regent Nancy Hughes. “The Marines are so grateful and surprised about how many toys we are able to bring to them.”
In 2020, the San Jose Toys for Tots Program distributed 53,860 toys to 38,812 local children.
The DAR mission is threefold: historic preservation, education and patriotism. Hughes shared a two-page grocery list of over a dozen chapter service projects, including its 250 committee, preparing to celebrate America’s 250th year of independence in 2026.
Rooted in revolution but reaching out in community service, the DAR, founded in 1890, is holding its own despite dwindling membership nationwide in women’s service organizations.
The Santa Clara Chapter has 160 members. California has about 10,000 members in 119 chapters. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit has some 190,000 members nationally and internationally.
The catch to joining the DAR is that you have to trace your lineage back to an American Revolution patriot—someone who supported the War for Independence. Hughes said that one woman got in because her patriot provided butter to the Army.
If you don’t know whether you qualify to join the DAR, Santa Clara Chapter Registrar Lisa Oakley says, “Let’s check it out! You don’t need to know your genealogy. I can help and do a lot of the work for you.”
Next up for the holidays for Santa Clara Chapter is the Wreaths Across America ceremony on Dec. 18, 11 a.m., at Madronia Cemetery, 14766 Oak St., Saratoga. Remembrance wreaths will be laid on as many as possible of the 1,310 veteran graves.
Sponsoring a wreath through the Santa Clara Chapter supports the DAR as well as the Wreaths Across America program. https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/23360