About Us

About the Marine Corps Christmas Toy Drive

The Secret Santa Foundation’s Marine Corps Christmas Toy Drive was started in 2003 to honor San Diego businessman, Pat Hyndman, on his 90th birthday. Founders Terry and Joe Racciato turned the toy drive into a family project in 2004. “We wanted to show our grandchildren how important it is to give to others,” Terry explains. “You should have seen how small they were…the two-year-old was carrying a present bigger than she was, while repeating, ‘not for me, not for me.’ One of the biggest excitements for the kids was riding with Grandpa Joe in the big rental truck.”

Marine Corps Christmas Toy Drive 2006

Initially, Terry and Joe helped their grandkids shop for gifts and then transported them onto the base to a free “shopping” event where the parents could choose one gift for each child. In 2010, the process was streamlined. Now representatives from Secret Santa Foundation meet the Marine Corps Family Readiness Officers (FRO) at Toys R Us, where gifts are selected from the wish lists provided by the children’s parents. The FROs then take the gifts back to the base and deliver the presents to the parents.

For more than a decade, the Marine Corps Christmas Toy Drive has been supporting our brave troops and bringing joy to their children – all made possible by generous donations from the San Diego community. Secret Santa Foundation (SSF) provides 300-600 children each year with their primary Christmas gift. The foundation’s largest year was 2008, before the recession, when SSF spent over $36,000 on toys for Marine families in need.

All administration is done by volunteers so every dollar collected buys gifts for the children. Contributions are acknowledged for tax purposes by the Armed Services YMCA.

About the Founder

Terry Racciato is President of Together We Grow and SpecialCare, companies providing medical-based services such as pediatric daycare, skilled nursing care, and preschool programs for medically fragile children in San Diego.