McPherson College student, Junior Mendez, is sharing a Marine Corps Reserve holiday tradition with his college community this Christmas by heading up a Toys for Tots toy drive on campus.

Mendez, who is from Wichita and a graduate of Campus High School, is a junior in the Automotive Restoration program and a member of the Marine Corps Reserve serving with a unit in Oklahoma City. Each year, his unit’s master sergeant asks for volunteers to collect toys for the drive and while many of his peers take up posts at places like Walmart around Oklahoma City, Mendez wanted to be involved while attending school in Kansas.

“We are always pushed to be our best and our unit is asked to volunteer to help with the toy drive,” he said. “I was looking for a way that I could get my community here to help out.”

Working with the campus service organization, Gamma Beta Phi, Mendez decided to set up a collection box in the Hoffman Student Union. He is asking all members of the campus community to donate toys and fill the box. All toys must be new, unwrapped, and in their original packaging. The drive will continue through the end of finals week on December 6.

“I am hoping that students will understand that not all kids are as fortunate,” Mendez said. “And, that donating a toy can make you feel really good.”

Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes toys to less fortunate children at Christmas. The program started in 1947 and to date has distributed 548 million toys.

Mendez hopes the annual toy drive will catch on at McPherson College and already has ideas for next year that might include a 5K event to help collect toys.