Throughout the months of November and December, UMKC student-athletes engaged in the annual Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Toy Drive, collecting toy and monetary donations to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City. Teams looked to friends, family and fans to help this cause and successfully raised a record amount of donations through collections at games, bake sales, and fan clinics.
The Toy Drive is a conference wide initiative to promote community engagement throughout the holiday season. All WAC SAAC groups competed against each other to see which school could raise the most amount of money and collect the most toys, with the proceeds going to the local charity of the schools’ choice. UMKC's SAAC turned this annual community service initiative into a competition among all UMKC teams to see who could collect the most donations.
Once all of the toys and cash donations were collected, UMKC SAAC representatives took a shopping trip to their local Target store to buy toys, movies and books. Vice President of SAAC and senior on the Women’s Basketball team, Justice Collins, said, “The toy drive is important because it puts in perspective what the holiday season is all about. As student-athletes we have the ability to reach out and help the community, and it’s important we take advantage of that.”
Nathan Keown, WAC SAAC and UMKC SAAC representative and Track and Field/Cross Country student-athlete, helped select and purchase the toys. He said, “The toy drive was a fun, fulfilling opportunity to give back to the community which gives so much to us student-athletes. We wanted to make the holiday season just a little more exciting for the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, so I hope they enjoy their new toys!”
After the toys were purchased, a group of student-athletes, along with UMKC Athletic Director Carla Wilson, delivered the toys to the students at the local Boys and Girls Club. Eddie Howe, SAAC executive board member and junior on Men’s Soccer, helped deliver the toys. Howe said, “Every athlete enjoys the excitement in performing in their sport, but delivering these toys to the children of the Boys and Girls Club and seeing their smiles of excitement was an even better rush. Giving to those who support Roo Blue and Gold is the best part of UMKC Athletics.” Tony Mok, SAAC representative and sophomore on Men’s Soccer, stated that, “The most important and impactful part of the toy drive was being able to see the kids’ faces when they picked out their gifts. Their excitement and joy was something I’m glad I was able to see.”
Athletic Director, Carla Wilson, shared that, “I have been extremely pleased and proud of our student-athletes’ efforts to be engaged and make a difference in our community. The amount of toys they gathered and donated both individually and as a team was remarkable. To see the look on the faces of the boys and girls who received the gifts was truly heartwarming, and a very visual reminder of the strong and lasting impact the good will of our student-athletes has on others.”
Ursula Gurney, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations/SWA, noted that, “Giving back to the community is an important part of our department’s strategic mission, and it is wonderful to see our student-athletes enhance their efforts year after year.”
Assistant Director of Academic Support, Amelia Howard, serves as the UMKC SAAC Advisor. Howard stated, “I was proud of our student-athletes and their efforts during the Toy Drive this year as they were able to collect more than what they collected last year.”
For photos of this and other UMKC community service events, visit SASSO’s Facebook page.