Toys for Tots has been reaching out to families all over the U.S. for more than 71 years at Christmas. This year, Richland’s Health Professions Club pioneered an initiative to partner with Toys for Tots in a bid to reach out to less fortunate kids.
The donations will go to under-privileged children whose parents cannot afford to buy them Christmas gifts.
There are boxes set up in six locations on campus; the library in Bonham, the Learning Center in Medina, the Honors Office in El Paso, the Office of Student Life in El Paso, the Math Science and Health Profession office and the Multicultural Center in Thunderduck. The boxes will be in place through the first week of December.
According to Jackie Reynolds, a biology professor at Richland and sponsor of the event, those who intend to donate should bring unwrapped toys in the original packaging. This is to enhance the look of the gifts and to avoid second-hand presents, so each child will feel special and have a new quality gift.
“It is nice to do something nice for somebody. There a lot of children that don’t get anything or [not] very much,” Reynolds said. “I mean, for adults it’s one thing. Christmas is less important as an adult. The younger you are, [the more important it feels] I kind of feel sorry for those children.”
The donated toys will be taken to the main Toys for Tots office in West Dallas where the sorting and distribution takes place.
The Health Professions Club is for people going into the medical field. Their next meeting is from 2 to 3 p.m., Dec. 6 in Sabine Hall, Room 133.
For the past 140 years the Salvation Army has facilitated the Angel Tree Program in order to help families in need provide gifts for their children during the winter holidays.
Richland has provided gifts for more than 100 angels this year.
“It kicks off in November to give people time to adopt the angel, shop for the angel and time for the parents to wrap [the presents],” Louise Rogers Keim, administrative assistant II, in the Office of Student Life said.
The Salvation Army strategically delivers the angel (a card with the child’s age and Christmas present wishes on it) at the beginning of November to provide not only time to shop, but also time to take advantage of the holiday sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Donors return the gifts to the Salvation Army base where they got the angel. At Richland, it’s the Office of Student Life. The parents are permitted to wrap the gifts and give them to their children.
“[This] makes them [the parents] feel like they’re still doing something for their loved ones,” Keim said.
Some may frown upon the Angel Tree program and wonder why the donors don’t just deliver the gifts to the recipients themselves, but the point of the program is for families to gather and share gifts.
While the program does have an extremely high success rate, there is one major issue. Some angels are not taken off the tree.
Keim said these “forgotten angels” are not left out. “The Salvation Army keeps a list of names and reserve gifts. People tend to spend too much on everybody else. This holiday season you are encouraged to adopt an angel and bless those in need with Christmas gifts,” she said.