What started out as an idea to build camaraderie among Nursing students has taken on a bigger meaning, thanks to the efforts of Michael Bartolo.
“I wanted to do the Toys for Tots drive so that my class could give back to the community in some way,” said Bartolo, a UMass Amherst Nursing student. “Brightening up a child’s Christmas just seemed to be the best option for this season.” Dozens of toys later the class project has turned into a center-wide initiative at the UMass Center at Springfield (UMCS), and it’s an effort that’s brightening the hearts of the toy donors as well.
UMCS students, faculty and staff are collecting new, unwrapped toys for the annual toy drive sponsored by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Among the toys in the UMass Center box you’ll find Mr. Potato Head, coloring books, crayons, dolls, stuffed animals, trucks, and games. There is even a toy first aid kit, perhaps a subliminal message to create a pipeline of future nurses. As with other Toys for Tots collection locations, there is still a need for items for tweens and teens.
“This is one of the most generous times of the year and we’re hoping that giving spirit will lead to more smiles during this season,” said Jamina Scippio-McFadden, UMCS Director of Marketing & Community Relations. “It’s always rewarding to see students taking the lead on projects that benefit the greater community, especially a person we’ll entrust as a healthcare provider.” With another 19 days to go, Bartolo is shooting for a relatively simple goal.
“I’m hoping to fill at least one box and it seems like it will happen,” said Bartolo. Actually, it has already happened. Earlier today representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps stopped by the Center to collect the first box of donated toys and leave another empty box. This “Toys for Tots” drive is not limited to students. Anyone in the Tower Square area or downtown is welcome to donate a new, unwrapped toy.
Donations are being accepted during the following times:
Monday – Thursday, 7:30am-10:00pm
Friday, 7:30am – 5:00pm
Saturday, 7:45am – 5:00pm
The last day to donate toys is Wednesday, December 20th at 12noon. The UMass Center at Springfield is located at 1500 Main Street on the 2nd floor of Tower Square.