“There are many kids not getting anything for Christmas, and we want to fix that,” said event coordinator and founder Jennifer Icaza-Gast, instructor of Communication Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. “Our purpose is to get as many toys to as many children as we can.
Icaza-Gast said she launched the Student Santas program five years ago.
“The group originally started in the communication department with COMMrades, because I would give extra credit to students who would bring in toys. Other professors loved this idea and began doing this as well. It has since grown and now many students in other departments participate as well. Members in the community have also taken a special interest in our organization.”
The drive was very successful last year with more than 6,000 toys donated. Student Santas were even able to help out a family who spent their holiday in a St. Louis hospital and have set a new goal this year of collecting 8,000 toys. Individuals can help them reach this goal by donating toys or gift cards. Monetary donations are accepted as well to aid in packaging and shipping costs.
“The Student Santas are well on their way to reaching their goal this year,” said Staci Class, Student Santas vice president. “Student Santas held their First Annual “Sweatin’ With Santa 5K Walk/Run. This event was very successful with 144 participants and over $2,000 raised. Greek Life is also participating in this year’s drive with a goal of donating 1,000 toys. Arby’s is participating this year by having a donation box in every Arby’s in Missouri.”
Toys can be donated at all Missouri Arby’s locations, Signs of Success, KGMO, Prompt Care in Jackson, or brought to the first floor of the Grauel Building on the Southeast campus. Monetary donations can be sent to: P.O. Box 641, Cape Girardeau, MO 63702. Donations will be accepted through Christmas.
For more information, contact Icaza-Gast at (573) 651-2241.