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UMFK student organizations spearhead Fort Kent area "Toys for Tots" drive

November 25, 2005



University of Maine at Fort Kent's ARAMARK foodservice director Jason Carter (left) presents a $100 donation in the name of UMFK to leaders of four student organizations on campus. The student groups will use the money to purchase toys that will be used for a unique toy drive to benefit the Aroostook County Toys for Tots "Santa's Sleigh" project. Accepting the donation are (left to right) Jason Gayne, Kappa Delta Phi Fraternity; Jeremy Gurney, Newman Club; Samantha Spellacy, Kappa Delta Rho Sorority; Sherrie Clavette, UMFK Student Nurses Organization; and Caro Williams, UMFK assistant director of residence life and wellness.

Students in four organizations at the University of Maine at Fort Kent have stepped up to the plate to help make the Holiday season brighter for area children by volunteering to coordinate the community's collection of toys in the annual "Toys for Tots" drive.

The students, who represent the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity, Kappa Delta Rho sorority, Student Nurses Organization, and Newman Club, are challenging both the campus community and people of the greater Fort Kent area to collect as many toys as possible during the first two weeks of December.

Members of the campus groups will gather the new, unwrapped, non-violent toys donated by area residents from the Fort Kent drop-off spots at Quigley's Hardware and Paradis Shop-n-Save, as well as coordinate a unique collection effort on the UMFK campus.

The university initiative began the week before Thanksgiving, when Jason Carter, dining services manager for ARAMARK, UMFK's foodservice provider, presented the leaders of the four participating clubs with a donation of $100 in the name of the University.

"We wanted to start this campus and community project off on the right foot. I know people here will respond to the challenge. We hope to collect 200 to 300 toys," said Carter.

The students will use the ARAMARK donation to purchase toys from Fort Kent area businesses. The toys will be on display in Cyr Hall, the main classroom and administration building at UMFK, for re-sale to students, faculty, staff and community members in the three weeks following Thanksgiving.

"We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people on campus to participate in the toy drive. They can either bring in a new toy that they purchased, or we will have a selection of toys of various prices for purchase that when bought, will go into the donation bin. We will then take the money raised from our re-sale and purchase additional toys for the children. In essence, we are hoping to take any stress out of the Holiday shopping experience," said Caro Williams, assistant director of residential life, who is working with the student groups.

During the three-week toy re-sale and collection effort, which begins on Monday, November 28, various members of the four participating student organizations will staff a table in the entrance of Cyr Hall between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

"Our organization is about philanthropy," said Samantha Spellacy, president of the Kappa Delta Rho sorority. "This is a really good cause. Our efforts will help brighten the day of a child who might not otherwise receive a gift at Christmas."

Once the students have completed their on-campus toy drive and have gathered all the toys donated by area residents at Quigley's and Shop-n-Save, they will drive a UMFK passenger van full of toys to the United Way of Aroostook in Presque Isle on December 16, where they will be wrapped and prepared for distribution as part of the County-wide Santa's Sleigh project.

"It is always very heart warming to see the creative ways that people come up with to help with the toy project and this year is no exception. The students at UMFK have been very innovative in coming up with a unique and an effect way to make it possible for people to contribute to the toy project," said Claudia Stevens, United Way of Aroostook executive director. "When Christmas morning arrives they will know that they are responsible for making it a brighter Christmas for needy children in Aroostook County."

Last year, with the help of the U.S. Marine Reserves Toys for Tots, WAGM-TV, several civic organizations and other donors, United Way of Aroostook's Santa's Sleigh project was able to acquire enough toys and games to distribute to nearly 1,075 children in 22 communities throughout the St. John Valley and Aroostook County.

"This is a great cause for the community. We want to challenge everyone to give," said Jason Gayne, president of the Kappa Delta Phi fraternity.