Nearly 1,000 children benefit in Toys for Tots distribution at Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure children in the area have something to cheer about, as the holiday season takes hold. On Saturday, Dec. 18, nearly 500 parents walked away with at least two toys each for their children during a Toys for Tots distribution organized by TSU and Simply United Together, a nonprofit that coordinates the pickup of donated toys. 

A volunteer helps Diamond Johnson, right, pick out toys for her children. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Organizers said nearly 1,000 children were served with thousands of toys of different sizes and shapes for boys and girls up to age 12. Volunteers, including TSU students, staff, alumni, and representatives from area charitable organizations and churches, helped with the distribution in Kean Hall on the main campus. 

Diamond Johnson, a Nashville parent with five kids, was among those picking up toys. 

“With prices going up and things getting harder, it feels good to know that there are people who care to help out for people in need,” Johnson said. “I am thankful to Toys for Tots for making sure my children will have gifts for Christmas.” 

Marvin Poole and his wife, Laura, also received toys for their four kids. They said with the pandemic, loss of income, and prices going up, they didn’t know where to turn for gifts. 

Marvin Poole, right, a father of four children, says this is the first time his family has solicited for toys for their kids. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“It’s been a hard year for everybody. We’ve never done anything like this before as a family,” said Marvin.  “To have someone there in times of need, this is just a blessing and we are very thankful.” 

Since 2018, TSU has partnered with Simply United Together, and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots to distribute toys on the TSU main campus. 

Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. William Hytche, coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, said the university is thankful for the continued partnership with Simply United Together to serve needy families during the holiday. 

TSU student volunteers participate in the toy distribution in Kean Hall. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“It is an important service that I think we do as a community,” said Hytche. “TSU is in the community, so we like to serve the community whenever we get the opportunity. We have had this partnership with Simply United for over three years and it has worked very well. It is unfortunate that we are in this pandemic but we are doing everything we can to minimize the spread.” 

Benetta M. Sears, the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, said she is thankful that TSU has continued to be a site to serve families, especially during this “very critical time.” 

“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, and we are thankful to continue our partnership,” she said. 

Sears said she hopes the parents who participated will one day encourage their children to attend TSU. 

For more information on Toys for Tots at TSU, call Dr. William Hytche at 615-963-5069.

Department of Media Relations

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Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight 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