Students ‘join’ Marine Corps for Christmas

YSUnity, Youngstown State University’s gay-straight alliance, will accept donations for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots drive through Friday.

“We wanted to do a canned food drive, but we didn’t think we had enough time to set it up,” said Tim Bortner, YSUnity treasurer. “So we contacted the Marine Corps and asked to participate in their toy drive.”

Collection points will be set up on the first floor of Kilcawley Center on Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Toys must be new and unwrapped. The drive will not accept toy guns or gambling toys. Cash donations are also welcome.

Those who donate will be entered into a raffle for a $20 Best Buy gift card. Raffle tickets will also be sold for $1 each. All proceeds will go toward the Mahoning County chapter of Toys for Tots.

This is the first year that YSUnity has participated in the toy drive, but other campus organizations are also pitching in.

Kilcawley Center is holding its 36th annual holiday breakfast at 8 a.m. on Dec. 14 and 15. U.S. Marine Corps reservists from the Vienna air base will be on hand, collecting toys that will be distributed through local Salvation Army offices.

This is the fifth year that Kilcawley Center’s staff offices have collaborated with the U.S. Marine Corps in the Toys for Tots drive.

Lynn Haug, retail operations manager at Kilcawley Center, is pleased to be working with the Marines again this year.

“We’re very happy to participate in the Marines’ toy drive. Last year, we collected over 1,000 toys and nearly $2,500 in cash donations,” Haug said. “The Marines brought a van that wasn’t big enough to hold all the donations last year. They had to go back to the base and get a bigger truck. We’re looking forward to another successful year this year.”

Toys for Tots is an initiative of the U.S. Marine Corps that is aimed at donating toys to children whose parents cannot afford Christmas gifts. The program began as a charitable effort in Los Angeles in 1947 and has grown into a national campaign.

According to the program’s website, Toys for Tots has distributed more than 400 million toys to more than 188 million needy children over its 64-year existence.