Concert to benefit Toys For Tots

GySgt Christopher Harrison with the collection box. The box is used for collecting toys for Toys For Tots.

Sha Meng

The ISU Sigma Alpha Iota international music fraternity will host a benefit concert for Toys For Tots at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall in cooperation with the Naval ROTC.

Admission for the concert is provided in two ways: a $5 donation or a new toy donation. The event will last for about an hour.

Since 1995, Toys For Tots has been approved by the Secretary of Defense as one of the official events of the U.S. Marine Corps and the official missions of the Marine Corps Reserve. New, unwrapped toys are usually collected during the last quarter of the year. 

The mission of the program is “to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens,” according to its official website.

As an all-female music fraternity, SAI sponsors unique events, such as the Toys for Tots benefit concert, to help people in the Ames community.

“It’s a concert that we put on for five years now,” said Jillian Burdick, senior in music and philanthropy chairwoman of SAI. “We take monetary donations and new toys, and we end up giving them to the marines, who officially take them to the Toys For Tots Foundation in Des Moines. We just hold the event to bring all of the things in.”

In order to attract more students to the event, Burdick said SAI usually targets music students seeking concert credit for class. Students who attend the benefit concert can receive double credit for class.

Burdick said the concert has received a lot of support from the ISU Music Department. Several music department faculty and students will perform at the concert, while the department shows support for Toys For Tots with monetary donations.

Burdick said the ISU Trombone Quartet will perform holiday selections, while members of SAI will sing. Shy of a Dozen, an all-male a capella group, has regularly performed at this event and will return for this year’s concert.

After the Toys For Tots Benefit Concert, the ISU Naval ROTC will collect all of the toys and deliver them to the Toys For Tots Foundation in Des Moines.

Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Harrison, assistant marine officer instructor of the ISU Naval ROTC, helps ensure the toys are collected and delivered successfully.

“I have three or four people to call every year,” Harrison said. “They let us know when they have enough toys, and we go and [deliver the toys]. And once I get everything together from the university, I’ll put them in the vans and trucks and … deliver them to the main spots [in Des Moines].”

When talking about the monetary donations raised by the concert, Harrison said the money goes directly to the Des Moines chapter of the foundation. Money collected from the benefit concert is used to buy toys.

“[T]hey use the money to buy toys because some of the toys [donated] are opened, [which] can’t be used if the toys are opened,” Harrison said. “They’ve got a bunch of stuff for bigger kids, and they need to buy toys for smaller [kids].”

Besides the concert, there are other ways provided by the Naval ROTC to collect the toys and monetary donations.

Harrison said the collection will be open until Dec. 14. On campus, the ISU Parking Division, located at the ISU Armory, and Beardshear Hall have provided special boxes designated for people who want to donate toys.

Harrison said toy donating can be very simple.

“[Toys have] to be unwrapped, brand new, and [inexpensive],” Harrison said. “You can find a drop-off if you’re near Wal-Mart, you can bring it to one of the boxes on campus, you can also give it to any ROTC students or directly to me.”

Donations may also be given directly to the Toys For Tots Foundation.

For those unable to attend the concert in person, Music Hall’s Recital Hall Webcast allows viewers to see the concert live online.

For more info, visit the music department website. For donation info, visit the Toys For Tots website or contact Harrison at [email protected].