Nine Sam Houston State University organizations came together to deliver Christmas goodies to 108 children and families at Huntsville Head Start last week.
Alpha Phi Alpha Theta Mu partnered with NAACP Unit No. 6816, the African Student Association, Women of 1520, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., Black Student Alliance, Black Prodigy Group, Choslife and the Caribbean Student Association to hold a toy drive collecting 324 toys.
“The toys that were donated are going to help all children leave our program with a toy because not all of our families are able to get gifts for children during the holidays,” Huntsville Head Start education manager Brenda Thompson said.
The toys were collected through a masquerade ball, exchanging donated toys for admittance into the event.
“It’s just a great way to end off the semester and it’s also good because we are hosting an event where we are having fun, but we are also giving back to kids who are less fortunate than us,” Alpha Phi Alpha Theta Mu president Brindon Reed said.
This is not the first time Alpha Phi Alpha has used event marketing to bring big donations to local kids in need. The SHSU fraternity held a back-to-school drive in August to bring raise school supplies for students at Mance Park Middle School.
“Everybody loves kids, so I feel like that’s the easiest thing to get people together,” Reed said. “Community service is a big thing in my organization, so I feel like our first community is Sam Houston and our second community is Huntsville, so just helping kids that are less fortunate than us is a great thing that all of us like to do.”
Generous donations including an Xbox gaming system, an electric scooter, crafting kits, dolls and more, will all be wrapped and placed under the tree at the head start school. Children will select a wrapped present from under the tree to take home at the end of the semester on Dec. 19, and those who are needier will receive a little extra this holiday season.
“When the toys are donated to our program, we look for the whole family because it’s not right for us to just send a toy home with a three or four year old while they have a ten or two year old sibling at home … we try to make sure there’s enough toys for the entire family.” Thompson said, adding that the Xbox will go to a family with a teenage sibling.
Huntsville Head Start serves low-income households, and asks parents for a wish list for the entire family, ensuring that everyone receives a present this Christmas.
However for some, the toys will provide more than just bring Christmas cheer, Thompson notes that one child being raised by family members will receive a gift addressed from her mother who is incarcerated, adding stability to her life.
“We asked her, ‘what’s the one special thing you want your mom to give to you?’ Hopefully one of the items is in the toys that we got, and if it is, we will make sure that she gets that one special item so that she will feel really special,” Thompson said.
While children may want toys for Christmas, many families at the head start are commonly requesting food, socks, underwear, baby formula and books.
“It’s things that we take for granted. At Christmas time, kids want toys, but families just really need basic things met,” Thompson said.
To donate to a family in need this holiday season, contact Huntsville Head Start at 936-291-9190.