Campus aims to top ‘Toys 4 Tots’ record

Patrick Koster, Reporter

“Snowvember” may be over, but the repercussions of it are not. While communities across Western New York are recovering, members of SUNY Buffalo State’s Institute for Community Health Promotion (ICHP) are reaching out to help for charity.

Since October, the ICHP has been collecting donations for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaign. In their fourth year of running the campaign, ICHP is looking to beat their record of 300 toy donations.

“We’re hoping to, but we’re nowhere near it yet,” said Rob Skutnik, senior program coordinator for the Center for Health and Social Research, about potentially beating their record. “We’re worried this year, because of the big storm, that it’s going to slow things down if people haven’t had a chance to go out and do their shopping yet.”

Although the November storm has caused some worries for the Toys for Tots campaign, Roberta Pawlowski, senior research specialist at the center, remains optimistic.

“But then again, at the end, because of the storm, people could be feeling so community worried that we could get overloaded right towards Christmas,” Pawlowski said. “We usually find more (donations) closer to the holidays.”

Toys donated to the campaign stay local. The U.S. Marine Reserve Corps collect the toys, which then go to a central distribution center. From there, local families that are selected are able to go to the distribution center and personally select toys.

“It’s all new, unwrapped toys,” Skutnik said. “So they’ll know what their own kids would like and they get to go and pick them out.”

Skutnik said donations cover all age ranges, from infants to teenagers. He said there is usually a good mix between faculty and student donations.

“It helps unite the community,” Pawlowski said.

In the past, Pawlowski said that donors could get their names written on Toys for Tots “trains” and have them placed on a wall alongside other donors.

Aside from donating, Pawlowski and Skutnik said students can help by spreading the word about the Toys for Tots campaign. Skutnik said that if possible, floors of residence halls could challenge one another to see who donates the most.

“It’s interesting, because Buff State is a city campus,” Skutnik said. “It’s located in the heart of a heavily populated community, and it’s a community where a lot of people are less fortunate than most. We’re a part of that community. So helping to donate and lift up that community only enhances the reputation of Buff State and being a true community member.”

The Institute for Community Health Promotion is largely academic-based. ICHP is also involved with the West Side Youth Development Coalition in the Buffalo area.

Donation stations for Toys for Tots are located in Classroom Building A-203 and at the Center for Development of Human resources in the Pierce Arrow Building, 1695 Elmwood Ave.

Skutnik said there are other donation stations in the community. Go to to find other stations, and for more information about the Toys for Tots campaign.

“Christmas time is a time where need is most magnified,” Skutnik said. “And we want to help families in our community, help provide them with a happy Christmas.”