Joy brought through toys

With the holiday season right around the corner, one of the best ways to boost spirits is by giving back. This year, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office teamed up with the Minnesota State Track and Field Team to bring festive cheer to the Mankato community.

The project was spearheaded by MSU students Rashion Walker and Jeremiah Revere. Revere said the idea came to them from a trip to Five Below.

“In early August before school started, we were walking through the aisles and we noticed there were a whole bunch of different toys. We thought we could start a toy drive and with 180 (team members) in a group chat, I thought ‘That’s a lot of toys we could give out,’” Revere said. 

Walker and Revere grew up in the inner streets of Miami and were once on the receiving end of toy drives. Revere said it’s nice being on the giving end.

“My mom did whatever she could to get what I wanted for Christmas. Being able to get that toy is special,” Revere said. “It makes me feel good to have the roles reversed.”

Associate Track and Field Head Coach Chris Parno said the ownership of track students taking initiative for starting the drive can be implemented back to a teamwork mindset.

“It’s the call to action. There’s no ‘Let’s get it done’ but being more intentional about getting (the drive) accomplished,” Parno said. “It’s not from the coaching staff putting it on them, it’s the people from the team.”

Revere added the importance of Maverick Athletics getting involved also comes from wanting to give back after receiving support from sponsorships and donors.

“A lot of people come out and support us from the community and I feel that if we’re being supported all the time, we should show that support,” Revere said. 

A friendly competition to see which department can gather the most toys has resulted. Those who drop off toys can mark their unwrapped toys with a gold sticker for the track team while purple stickers represent the DEI office.

Interim Director of African American and Multicultural Affairs Balencia Sariah Crosby said the DEI office’s goal is to bring in around 50 to 100 toys. Crosby said the spirit of competition has been helpful in building connections with staff and departments.

“I don’t mind losing the competition because we are still building rapport in the grand scheme of things,” Crosby said. “There’s been some students saying ‘you’re going down,’ but it’s all in good fun for a good cause.” 

While the budget of a college student is a bit tighter, Parno said it’s easy for students to swap their morning coffee or a takeout order for a $5 toy. 

“By making that replacement, you feel good knowing that someone is going to open that gift and be excited about it,” Parno said. “I think it’s getting in the mindset that we can make a sacrifice to make somebody else happy.”

Crosby said the simple act of donating a toy or even a pack of stickers can still make a difference in a child’s life.

“The children that we are able to give toys to are going to make a difference. When we put all these small differences together, it changes the world,” Crosby said. 

The drive is looking for unwrapped toys elementary school children would like. All the donations will be given to Toys for Tots. For those looking to participate in the toy drive, donation boxes are set up in Myers Fieldhouse, McElroy’s front desk and the Women’s Center. The drive runs until Dec. 5. 

Header photo: The Women’s Center is one of the locations students can drop off unwrapped toys at for the Holiday Toy Drive which runs through Dec. 5. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Emma Johnson at

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