For the fifth year, Wesleyan Public Safety partnered with the Middletown Fire Department and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) to sponsor the Holiday Toy Drive December 5 – 9.
The “Stuff a Cruiser” toy collection was held in the Huss Courtyard between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day. As with any successful venture, location and timing were key. By setting up during the height of daily traffic to the Usdan University Center and the Daniel Family Commons and making sure a QR code was available for online donations, over $1,000 was raised in addition to the toys that were donated.
“I think it is great to give back, and it builds a nice relationship between Wesleyan and the town,” said Wesleyan Public Safety Sergeant Kathy Burdick, who has been volunteering for the drive since its inception.
“It is very fulfilling, as many families have it tough this time of year,” said Middletown Fire Chief Jay Woron. “Wesleyan’s collection shows community engagement from students who are from all across the country, which is awesome. It is great all the way around, and we appreciate them.”
Each year, local families are identified by school social workers and the Fire Department uses information including children’s ages and family needs to purchase items with the financial donations. “We all collect, wrap, and deliver to our local families; it’s a department-wide event,” Woron said.
On December 18, the Middletown Fire Department will deliver the toys, along with holiday food, to local Middletown families in need. Toys will be loaded into a fire engine and Santa will deliver the gifts to each child’s home, turning it into a magical experience that money can’t buy.
Jori Balsam ’23, a student-athlete and a member of SAAC’s executive board, collected toy donations alongside Public Safety.
“I think this is an awesome opportunity for SAAC to benefit the Middletown community and a way for us to contribute beyond athletics,” said Balsam.
But the toy drive is just one example of how campus organizations assist the local community this time of year.
SAAC’s other community programs include playing with kids at McDonough Elementary School during recess and sponsoring a food drive at Thanksgiving for Amazing Grace Food Pantry.
The Resource Center and the Sustainability Office also partnered to help the Amazing Grace Food Pantry. They collected climate-related disaster resources such as socks, gloves, warm blankets, bandages, and non-perishable food items.
The Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and Service Learning all joined forces to collect goods for local community organizations including The March for Education Foundation’s Clothing Drive and Russell Library’s Annual Mitten Drive.
The goal of all of this work is to bolster Wesleyan’s relationship with the community and to encourage students to be a part of that important work. It may be the season of giving, but the desire to give back is year-round at Wesleyan.