The Santa Barbara City Fire Department is participating in the annual holiday toy drive benefiting Toys for Tots by collecting toys at each of its eight fire stations.

The toy collection drive begins Tuesday. Each station will have a collection box for new, unwrapped toys.

Toys for Tots began in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks, U.S. Marine Corps-retired, and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The 1947 pilot project was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it into a nationwide campaign.

That year, Marine Corps Reserve units across the nation conducted Toys for Tots campaigns in each community in which a Marine Reserve Center was located. Marines have conducted successful nationwide campaigns at Christmas each year since 1948.

This year in Santa Barbara County all toys collected by the fire stations will be distributed by the Unity Shoppe.

Toys can be dropped off anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week at any of the Santa Barbara city fire stations located at:

» Station 1, 121 W. Carrillo St.

» Station 2, 819 Cacique St.

» Station 3, 415 E. Sola St.

» Station 4, 19 N. Ontare Road

» Station 5, 2505 Modoc Road

» Station 6, 1802 Cliff Drive

» Station 7, 2411 Stanwood Drive

» Station 8, 40 Hartley Place

The department will not be accepting used toys, clothing or food for the program.

— Yolanda McGlinchey is the Emergency Services manager for the City of Santa Barbara.