Honors toy drive helps hundreds of children

Katrina Moses, Staff Writer

With the help of Francis Marion University’s (FMU) Honors Student Association (HSA), the Salvation Army was able to present 725 children with toys this past Christmas.

      The drive began in November and ended during exam week, Dec. 4-10.  There were eight different locations across campus to drop off new toys for local children.

            Dr. Jon Tuttle, English professor, is the director of the Honors Program at FMU.

“This year, the toy drive [was] co-sponsored by the Salvation Army who distributed the toys to children in need,” Tuttle said.

In previous years, the Marine Corps and the Salvation Army, who collected the boxes this year, have helped with the toy drive.  

“This goes back at least eight or ten years, as long as I can remember, anyway,” Tuttle said.  “So, one reason we’re sponsoring it this year is ‘habit.’ The real reason, of course, is to remind ourselves that our situation is very fortunate.   There is very little we want for in our lives.  ‘We’ being persons fortunate enough to attend or work at a university, while all over town, there are children who deserve a happier Christmas.”

            Breanna Robertson, sophomore pre-nursing major and HSA member, expressed a similar opinion.

            “I think the toy drive is important because it is a chance for fortunate students to give to those who are less fortunate,” Robertson said.  “It also is not a typical task [that] you would see normal honors programs take on.  It is something that shows how different our program is from others. We are constantly reaching out to others and we understand the importance of giving back.”   Robertson said she also believes that participation in HSA events and community service projects helps students become better-rounded.

“Even if you are academically strong, you really don’t have a very full view of college if you are not helping with something,” Robertson said.  “You don’t necessarily want to [just] be successful academically, but you also want to be successful socially.”

            Robertson explained that the students in HSA had different commitments while helping with the toy drive.  She also said she likes that the drive is done during the holiday season because people tend to be in a more giving spirit.

            Tuttle shared Robertson’s sentiments about the spirit of giving that the holiday season brings.

“If the drive was year-round, we would lose the Christmas angle,” Tuttle said.  “Maybe having them year round, people would stop seeing them – the bins – and just take them for granted.  On the other side, maybe it would be a constant reminder that toys and other things are needed.”

This year, HSA will volunteer at the Human Society once again on Feb 8.  Tuttle said this community project has become a regular event for HSA.

“According to a standing agreement we have with them, we show up and they put us to work doing whatever needs doing, which frequently involves washing dishes, spraying out kennels, shampooing puppies and ‘socializing with cats,” Tuttle said.  “As far as I’m concerned, [it’s] a great way to spend an afternoon.”

            HSA holds events for students involved in the organization throughout the year, but they also service the local community.  In the past, HSA has also volunteered to wash puppies at the Humane Society, participated in book drives and hosted several other community service projects.