20,000 Reasons to Get Up and Work on a Saturday
Published on December 23, 2013 by Tiffany Coleman
(BOISE) Let’s face it. Getting up early on a Saturday morning in below-freezing weather is not exactly at the top of everyone’s list. But don’t tell that to a group of students, staff members and volunteers from Broadview University. Ten people representing the Boise campus recently hopped out of bed, drove to nearby Gowen Field in Boise, and dove head first into bins and bins full of toys. They were on a mission to help the Marine Corps’ efforts to make the holidays brighter for roughly 20,000 local kids.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program is an annual holiday tradition. Each year, communities across the nation band together and donate new, unwrapped toys to the nonprofit organization. For the past three years, the Boise campus has been an official toy drop-off site. So far, hundreds of toys have been collected and distributed. This year, the campus decided to do something a little bit different. In addition to being a toy drop-off site, faculty, staff members and a few community volunteers joined students from the Customer Service Strategies class and filled toy orders in the toy warehouse. For the students, the adventure was a direct service learning project.
“Today, I think they are learning about how much patience customer service really takes,” their instructor and business program chair, Debra Schmidt, said.
For two hours, the group steadily worked—along with other community volunteers—equipped with large, black plastic bags and sheet after sheet of paper that told stories about local children in need of gifts to open on Christmas morning. A common theme ran through the parents’ reasons for needing help this holiday season: layoff, no job. One-by-one the bags were filled to the brink with age-appropriate toys, stuffed animals, stocking stuffers, activities, games and books. The bags were then tied, the papers were stapled to the outside, and then the bags were placed in huge cardboard bins.
“I thought it was nice for so many families to bring their kids out and help here today,” Stephanie Birkinbine, a student in the medical administrative assistant program, said. “It really shows kids why they should be grateful for what they have. I heard one mom tell her child ‘This is all they will get for Christmas.’”
While most of the gift requests averaged between two and four children per family, one request came in for a family with 11 children. It took all members of the Broadview team to fill that request. In the middle of it, the toy supplies started to run out. All of the helpers had to temporarily wait for the Marine Corps reservists to bring in the next round of deliveries. They were out at local stores gathering toys from the cardboard bins and shopping for even more toys in an effort to fill the large stack of requests.
“This adventure was kind of chaotic, but nice,” Jessica Melville, a business program student, said. “I keep thinking about how nice it was for the community to come together and help those in need.”
In addition to supplying the volunteer efforts, the campus also presented the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program with its quarterly charitable giving donation of $500. The money immediately went back into the program; helping local children to have a brighter holiday season this year.
“We certainly appreciate Broadview University’s donation and volunteer efforts,” 1st Sgt. Shay Henry, the local Toys for Tots coordinator, said. “We are helping almost 20,000 local children this year. This will certainly help us reach that goal.”