UNION — On December 17 at Kean University, Liberty Hall Museum collected nearly 500 toys and a donation of $1,000 and delivered them to the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots Foundation in Edison.
In a campaign that began in October, more than 17 departments and student organizations at Kean combined to collectively spread some holiday cheer through the program. Liberty Hall Museum, Premiere Stages, the Center for Leadership & Service, the Accounting Club and the Kean University Service Corp are among the groups that made this year’s campaign, the second in which the university has participated, such a success.
Before the gifts were loaded onto the Kean trolley at Liberty Hall, Kean University President Dawood Farahi applauded the outstanding efforts of the Kean University Accounting Club that raised the generous cash donation through a bake sale. He thanked the student representatives from the Kean Service Corps that drove the campaign to collect new, unwrapped toys for the needy children in the area.
Dr. Farahi also commended the two Kean students on hand who have served in the Marines, Luis Cruz and Jonathan Coogan. Cruz, originally from Ecuador, is a computer science major who began his Kean career in 2009 after eight years of active duty all over the world. Coogan served in two tours of Iraq during his four years as a Marine and is now studying business management at Kean.
Susan Garino, Liberty Hall Museum coordinator of historic structures organized the campaign and made the delivery to Edison. The sound of Christmas carols filled the trolley as it rode down the Garden State Parkway, bags of toys were piled high and the mood was festive. Garino was joined by Cruz and Coogan, as well as Kean Service Corps student members Iliana Jiminez, Ashley Anderson, Annie Ramus and Gabriela Zanetta-Perdomo.
Toys for Tots was created in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks, USCR and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to disadvantaged children. The pilot project was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it nationwide. The initial objective that remains the hallmark of the program today is to “bring the joy of Christmas to America’s needy children.”
As the Director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio, Hendricks convinced a vast array of celebrities to support Toys for Tots. In 1948, Walt Disney designed the Toys for Tots logo still in use today. Nat “King” Cole, Peggy Lee and Vic Damone recorded the Toys for Tots theme composed by Sammy Fain and Paul Webster in 1956. Bob Hope, John Wayne, Doris Day, Lorrie Morgan, Tim Allen, Kenny Rogers and Billy Ray Cyrus are but a few of the long list of celebrities who have given their time and talent to promote Toys for Tots. First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush have both served as national spokespersons.
Kean University President Dawood Farahi (center) with Kean students and Marines Luis Cruz (left) and Jonathan Coogan.
(Left to right) Ashley Anderson, Gabriella Zanetta-Perdomo, Annie Ramus, Luis Cruz, Jonathan Coogan and Iliana Jimenez at the US Marines Toys for Tots center in Edison. (Photos courtesy of Kean University)
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