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Nursing students collecting Toys for Tots

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton State University nursing students are asking members of the community to help provide Christmas gifts for children from economically disadvantaged families.

The university's Student Nurses Association is hosting its first Toys for Tots drive through Dec. 11. Jessi Hare, one of the co-organizers of the collection drive, said she and co-organizer, Amanda Scruggs, are trying to establish a tradition for the organization. The Student Nurses Association has never conducted a community service project during the holiday season, Hare said.

"Kids are important, and they deserve a chance to receive a gift on Christmas Day, just like everyone else," Hare said. "Everybody can afford a few bucks to buy a small toy for a child, for Christmas."

Hare said the 120-member Student Nurses Association's goal is to collect at least 100 new, unwrapped toys for children. "We decided to start out conservatively in our collection goal," she said.

The collection sites are on Clayton State's Morrow campus. The toys can be dropped off in the lobby of the school's Lecture Hall, and in the Nursing Lab, which is on the first floor of the Harry S. Downs Center for Continuing Education. Hare said that while the group had announced the collection drive would begin on Sunday, the boxes are already out, and people can begin dropping off toys.

Hare said the toys will be sent to a Toys for Tots distribution center in Marietta, which hands out toys to children in 11 metropolitan Atlanta counties, including Clayton and Henry counties.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program was founded in 1947 by a group of Marine reservists in Los Angeles, who collected 5,000 toys for needy children in the area, according to the program's web site. More than 400 million toys have been distributed to more than 188 million needy children through the program since then, according to the site. The toys are distributed by Marines in communities where a Marine Corps Reserve unit is located.

Toys for Tots' goal is to bring "a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters" at Christmas "that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens," according to the site.

Toys for Tots officials stipulate that the donated toys must be new, and unwrapped, "whether it be a set of Legos, or a Barbie doll," if they are to be given to a child, Hare said. She said the Student Nurses Association is not asking people spend a lot of money on a toy. Still, she urged people to participate in the Toys for Tots drive, if for no other reason, to help make a child feel special on Christmas.

"If they feel some people do care for them, it will empower them to help others as well," Hare said. "If a Barbie doll does that for a 6-year-old girl, then I'm going to give her a Barbie doll for Christmas."

For more information on the Student Nurses Association's Toys for Tots drive, call Clayton State's School of Nursing at (678) 466-4900.

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On the Net:

Toys for Tots: www.toysfortots.org