A tower of toys is taking shape in the West Virginia University Mountainlair. But, it’s not yet a mountain.

“The mountain behind me isn’t big enough. We need to make it bigger,” WVU President Jim Clements said Tuesday. “We need more toys.”

This is the 25th year of the Students Helping Other People (SHOP) and Toy Mountain programs, in which students and the WVU community raise money and donate toys to help underprivileged children in and around the Morgantown area. The University teams up with Christian Help and the Salvation Army for these programs.

“You make a difference every day, and as a person in the community, I just want to thank you,” Clements said.

Santa Claus, with his bright white beard and jolly red suit, handed out candy canes in the Mountainlair and other students jingled bells and walked around the tables in the building to raise even more money for the cause.

At the event in the Mountainlair Food Court, Clements presented a check from his family to go toward the SHOP program and donated a basket of toys on the mountain complete with a gold and blue football and other WVU-themed toys.

“Without this program, these children wouldn’t have any toys at all,” said Margaret Puderbaugh, co-chair of toys at Christian Help. “This is absolutely wonderful.”

Christian Help serves almost 300 local children including newborns and teenagers and prefers to give each child at least three gifts each holiday season.

“If the University and its students didn’t do this for us, we would never meet our quota,” Puderbaugh said.

The SHOP initiative has once again reached its goal of $16,800. On Tuesday, an anonymous donation boosted the total past the goal. Ron Justice, director of Student Organizations Services, said that he expects to raise around $19,000.

James Bailey, a graduate assistant for Student Organizations Services, is in his sixth year organizing the SHOP and Toy Mountain holiday drives.

“For a quarter of a century, the students at WVU have been working and doing all that they can to make sure that the children in the community can have a little bit better of a Christmas,” Bailey said. “That is something that is really special.”

More than 80 children ages 3-12 are expected to go shopping for Christmas presents with WVU students on Saturday at Super K-Mart as part of SHOP. Those children and volunteers take to the aisles in search of toys, clothes and other items up to $85.

Toy donations are also needed to build the Toy Mountain even taller. WVU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to drop off new, unwrapped toys (valued at $5 or more) at the Student Organization Services office in the Mountainlair. The toys will go to the Salvation Army and Christian Help.

Financial and toy contributions will also be collected at the WVU basketball game vs. Miami on Saturday (Dec. 10). Fans attending the contest are asked to donate toys, which will be collected starting at 6 p.m. before the game.

To donate money by Thursday (Dec. 8) at noon, make checks payable to WVU S.H.O.P and mail to attention Sue Henry, Student Organizations Services, PO Box 6444, Morgantown, WV 26505.

“If we could get five more student organizations to participate, if we could get a few more individual donations, if we could get a few more donations of toys, that would be great,” Bailey said. “There’s no such thing as meeting our goal.”

-WVU-

td/12/06/11

CONTACT: James Bailey, SHOP/Toy Mountain
304.293.4397, James.Bailey@mail.wvu.edu

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