Butler’s Bantam Marine Corps League (BMCL) has paired with the ROTC cadets for the fourth year in a row in an effort to expand their annual Toys for Tots collection campus wide.
Member of the BMCL and former active duty marine, Dennis Johnston, approaches ROTC every year to get additional fundraising help as well as give the cadets leadership opportunities.
“It’s really important that ROTC gets these opportunities to help their community,” Johnston said. “As members of the US military, the cadets need to lead the way for the rest of the students here.”
Senior cadet and business management major, Shane Curran will lead the fundraising this year. In addition to the senior that ROTC appoints each year, they’ve also brought in junior cadet and criminology major, Maggie Manocchio, 20, to gain experience so that she can pick up where Curran leaves off next fall.
“It’s great working with the Marines each year,” Curran said. “They’re our brothers in arms, and it’s an honor to work together for such a great cause.”
In addition to taking donations in the ROTC office, Manocchio hopes to start placing donation boxes in residence halls and classrooms to spread the word and increase donations. Though nothing is in place yet, Manocchio said that there are many fundraising events in the works that she hopes to hold, including a 5 and 10k race in Clarion.
Johnston also plans on spreading awareness throughout campus in October and November by asking students what the Toys for Tots’ motto is, and rewarding them with a free hoodie for the right answer.
“Even if students just go out and buy a cheap toy, it really makes a huge difference,” Johnston said. “If they could see the smiles on the kid’s faces, they wouldn’t think twice about it.”
Collection has already started, and donations can be taken to the ROTC office until December 11 when the toys will be taken to a warehouse to be assembled and organized before they’re delivered on Christmas day. The donations received last year were able to provide five to six toys each for over 2,300 local kids, and everything raised will benefit kids in Butler, Venango and Clarion counties.
“Christmas is a great time to help out kids in need,” Manocchio said. “What little kid doesn’t deserve to have a great Christmas?”
Because of the increased enrollment of ROTC cadets, Curran said they’d be able to spread even more awareness for Toys for Tots and teach the new cadets how to lead the way in efforts like these.
“We have a lot of cadet power here, and I’m sure if we lead the way with our efforts, others will definitely follow,” Curran said.
Johnston, Curran, and Manocchio agree that it’s up to SRU students to take the donation up a notch and get involved in the cause.
“Though ROTC is leading the collection, I’d like to see all of the clubs at Slippery Rock get involved. I’m talking all of the sports teams, the arts programs, and everything in between,” Johnston said. “The students here are great with volunteering their time to worthy causes, and if they can do that for Toys for Tots, a lot of kids are going to have a great Christmas.”