Thursday, November 16, 2006

Toys For Tots Does About Face On Jesus

Toys for Tots has decided to accept a toymaker's gift of 4,000 bible-quoting Jesus dolls after all. The program run by the Marine Corps Reserves had initially decided not to take the 12-inch tall religious figures from a California company because they didn't want to take a chance that the dolls would end up going to someone who might be offended by them. Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Va., said Toys for Tots doesn't know anything about the religious affiliations of the children who receive its gifts. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family,"(both of which don't celebrate Christmas) Grein said. "Kids want a gift for the holiday season that is fun." But a spokesman told reporters after they changed their minds and decided to accept the dolls from the Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co.. Toys for Tots refused further comment.According to the company's Web site, the button-activated, bearded Jesus doll recites Scripture such as "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Marine Sgt. Paul McCawley, who heads Toys for Tots in western Massachusetts, told the Boston Herald his chapter would have "regretfully declined the offer" out of "political correctness" had it occurred here. Each Toys for Tots chapter collects its own gifts. They distributed 18 million stuffed animals, games, toy trucks and other gifts to children based on financial need in 2005.