Holiday Hope Tree

The Holiday Hope Tree will supply underprivileged children with toys this season.

The university’s longest running annual toy drive, coordinated by the Butler Center, aims to collect 1,000 toys that will be distributed to children throughout the Miami area.

“This year we have received a lot more help than previous years, we are building a community,” said Claire Heckerman, the senior in charge of the toy drive.

Various organizations on campus such as the Association of Commuter Students (ACS), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, INC., residential colleges and several others are lending a hand in collecting toys. Individuals like Christine Ira are also participating by “adopting” children at the UC information desk. Ira is taking part in the toy drive for the first time this year.

“I picked a fifth grade girl and immediately called my younger sister to see what to get her, I wish I was there to see her face when she opens her gift,” says Ira.

This year the ACS has pledged to collect a minimum of 100 toys which will they will present to the kids during a party they will throw for them on Dec. 17.

Most of the children receiving gifts range in age from newborn to early teens. But in recent years the toy drive has also taken on “Be a Santa to a Senior,” a campaign that collects items for homebound senior citizens. The seniors request practical gifts like bath robes and alarm clocks while the most popular children’s requests are for tricycles and ride on toys.

“Last year President Donna Shalala donated ten stand-up fans for seniors and someone actually donated a full-on keyboard that a child requested,” explains Heckerman.

Unfortunately not all children are lucky enough to get the gift of their dreams.  The children who receive gifts through this toy drive are typically from low income families, are in foster care or are patients at local hospitals.

“It’s always really sad when parents request diapers for their children, they don’t request toys because they can’t even afford necessities like diapers,” explains Heckerman.

Whether it’s diapers, board games or gift cards, each item donated helps put a smile on a child and on a families face this December. The final day to bring a new, unwrapped gift to the UC is Wednesday, Nov. 24.

Ali Kitenplon may be contacted at