NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continues to keep community service at the center of its mission this holiday season.
On Dec. 21, more than 2,000 parents walked away with toys for their children during the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots distribution on the TSU main campus.
Thousands of toys of different sizes and shapes, for boys and girls up to age 12, were collected and distributed. Volunteers, including TSU students, staff, alumni, and representatives from area charitable organizations and churches, helped with the distribution in Kean Hall.
This event stems from a partnership between TSU and the Marine Corps Reserve in its annual toy distribution program. Prior to Saturday, TSU served as the official drop-off center for donated toys.
Christopher Terry, a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science, served as a volunteer at the event, helping parents to gather and secure toys for their children.
Terry, a Memphis-native whose community service group, Generation of Educated Men, volunteered at the event last year, said assisting with Toys For Tots gives him an opportunity to spread joy during the holiday season.
“Growing up in Memphis I did this with my church, and it just feels wonderful being able to do this now at an older age,” he said. “I just love the fact that TSU continues to be a pillar for the Nashville community by giving back and supporting the communities around us.”
As part of the partnership with the Marine Corp – the first with a university in the Nashville, Davidson County area – TSU received unwrapped toys for children up to age 12.
Associate Dean of Students, Dr. William Hytche, coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, said Simply United Together, a non-profit that coordinates the pickup of donated toys from Toys for Tots, spearheaded bringing the program to TSU. He said this year the program served a more diverse group.
“We have Hispanics now. We have our Caucasian brothers and sisters who are coming in, and that’s because they have closed their centers. So the demographics have changed this year,” Hytche said. “The director of Simply United Together was offered to go to other institutions who wanted this program, and they were offering a lot of incentives for her to come to their schools. She said, ‘No. I think Tennessee State University is where I want to be.’”
Benetta M. Sears, the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, said the number of families served at TSU this year has increased exponentially.
“Tennessee State University is very positive. This is a community school also, and the people here are more willing and ready to serve the Nashville community as it grows and we have exploded,” she said.
Sears said she hopes the parents who participated will one day encourage their children to attend Tennessee State University.
For more information on Toys for Tots at TSU, call Dr. William Hytche at 615-963-5069.
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.