SRU Army ROTC cadets take charge of Toys for Tots campaign

rotc students with toys for tots

Slippery Rock University Army ROTC Cadet Sgt. Zane Wolf, a sophomore safety management major from Slippery Rock and Cadet Capt. Darien Yarger, a senior psychology major from Milton, sort through Toys for Tots donations.

Nov. 18, 2016

toys for tots logo

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - With the fall semester quickly drawing to a close, many Slippery Rock University students are hustling to meet project deadlines and prepare for final exams.

But with Christmas right around the corner, the spirit of the holiday season is inspiring a few students to slow down and help play Santa to local children.

Chief among them are cadets from SRU's Army ROTC program who have stepped up to coordinate the annual Toys for Tots campaign on campus. The program collects donations of new, unwrapped toys and books from October-December each year, distributing the items as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the communities in which the campaigns are conducted.

Toys for Tots, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve initiative, was launched in 1947 with the goal of "delivering, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngster that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens."

"This is something that we are proud to do, especially since there is a historical, military attachment to Toys for Tots," said Cadet Capt. Darien Yarger, a senior psychology major from Milton. "Cadets have always been more than willing and able to help with the cause."

Yarger has been managing the campus-wide collection drive alongside fellow cadets, Lt. Rachel Brobeck, a junior criminal justice major from Burke, Virginia and Sgt. Zane Wolf, a sophomore safety management major from Slippery Rock.

"We are encouraging everyone to participate because it allows families in need to be able to give Christmas to their kids," said Yarger. "It always feels good having the opportunity to help others out like this."

Four donation boxes have been placed around campus. Two are located in the Smith Student Center; one in the lobby of Old Main; and another in the Robert A. Lowry Center, home of the ROTC program. Donations, for newborns to 12 year olds, will be accepted through Dec. 12.

"The possibilities are really endless," said Yarger. "Gifts can include headphones, family friendly movies, books, board games and puzzles. We just ask that everyone keep their presents age-appropriate and exclude any mature video games or R-rated movies."

Once the toys are collected, they will be separated into age groups and distributed to eligible families.

Cadets will deliver collected donations Dec. 16 at 9 a.m. to the Clearview Mall in Butler where they will assist in wrapping the items, welcoming families and presenting gifts to the children.

"We know this event is during the final exams week, but we hope as many people as possible can join us and give the gift of their time and energy - as well as their presents - to Toys for Tots," said Yarger. "The parents whose children take part in the program are so appreciative for all that everyone at the University does. You can tell it means so much to them.

"The best part for me is being able to help out and do my part. It feels really good to pitch in at Christmas, and at SRU, each one of us should do our best to reach out to the community as much as possible when opportunities arise."

Since the inception of the program, more than 512 million toys have been delivered to more than 237 million children across the nation.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 | mxz1016@sru.edu