Annual toy drive returns to St. John’s for the holiday season



Hooper’s Toy Drive is becoming an annual tradition at St. John’s during the holiday season. The holiday toy drive, where students collect Christmas toys to benefit children in need, will run until December 16ththis year, with toy drop boxes located in Marillac, D’Angelo, Starbucks, the resident halls and computers labs.


Professor Jane Paley is the catalyst behind the toy drive, whose PR Campaign Seminar students help to conduct the campaign each year. According to Paley, they conduct the campaign as an actual PR agency would.


“We do background research, a student survey, and determine goals for the semester,” said Paley. “Then we develop a communications plan and produce extensive press materials.”


The group also puts on a dozen fundraisers and special events throughout the year to support the efforts of the drive. 


Paley said that her dog Hooper became the official mascot of the drive in 2008 when her students wanted to brand the campaign with an image. One student suggested they use a dog.


“I was the only one in the class with a dog in the area. I brought in a photo and that was it,” said Paley.


Hooper’s background is not the average canine tale. He was formerly a rescue dog in New Orleans, likely a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Paley says that she read about him on, a site dedicated to placing homeless dogs into new homes.


This year, the St. John’s Film Club has agreed to develop a commercial for the toy drive, and the Advertising Club has designed a print campaign to promote the drive around campus. Gabi Dickens, who is president of the Ad Club, said that their focus is to help the campaign reach their 2000 toys goal.


“Our challenge is to get students to actually go out, but these toys, bring them back to campus and donate them,” said Dickens. “It’s not like we’re asking them to just reach in their pockets and take out a dollar, [students] have to actually go out and do something.”


In addition to promoting Hooper as the toy drive’s mascot, St. John’s basketball stars DJ Kennedy and Sky Lindsay have also dedicated their time and image to the campaign. Both athletes are in Professor Paley’s class.


All toys collected through the drive will go to Toys for Tots, Mommas House, Shriner’s Children’s Hospital and Bred and Life. For more information, visit