Gestures of goodwill and festive cheer consumed the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Grand Ballroom during the University’s Holiday Toy Drive Dec. 4.
The annual Toy Drive, which serves as a highly anticipated annual community event at the University, generated enough toys to ensure approximately 400 area youth will receive a gift during the holidays. Nearly 175 supporters turned out with gifts and donations in hand to ensure the event was indeed a success.
William Hudson Jr., Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs at FAMU, said the holiday initiative helps demonstrate the special passion the University has for the local community.
“As a proud Rattler, I know that as a student we went out into the community and participated in community service and our students today do the same thing. I’m very proud of our faculty, our staff, and our students who participated in this drive and also bought toys for kids and those who are less fortunate,” Hudson said.
This year’s toy drive was a collaborative effort of the University and several members of the local community that include Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and his wife, R. Jai; Ahmad Favors of the Tallahassee Housing Authority; and Darryl Jones of the Bethel AME Community Development Corporation. Vernon Bryant, chairman of the event planning committee, said he was pleased with the outpouring of support received from the members of the University community.
“Many of the colleges and schools heeded the call for decorating boxes and donating toys. The toy drive is always exciting, and I’m hoping everyone left the event with a better understanding about FAMU’s emphasis on giving back to the community because that is why we are here,” Bryant said.
Several of the toy drive attendees said the opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of area children during the holidays keeps them excited about supporting the event year after year.
LaShawnda Swanigan, coordinator of the FAMU Welcome Center, said she was eager to come out to support the event and enjoy the usual warm comradery shared among fellow Rattlers.
“I like to come out and support anything that will show the community that FAMU is involved and that we care about them. It’s also a way to invoke the spirit of giving and love across the campus,” Swanigan said.
All gifts received from the toy drive will be distributed to children residing in the Springfield and Orange Avenue public housing facilities. For more information about the toy drive and additional opportunities to contribute, please call Vernon Bryant at 850-599-3413.