This year at St. John’s, a very special toy drive is going on thanks to Professor Jane Paley’s public relations campaign class.
Rather than having her class study other people’s public relations campaigns, Paley felt that creating their own would be more rewarding and educational.
The class then began creating a campaign that could appeal to students and would help bring together the St. John’s community in an effort to give back.
The result is Hooper’s Holiday Toy Storm, a toy drive designed and run by students that will be taking place throughout the holiday season.
“All of this is revolved around the Vincentian mission, give to receive,” said senior Jessia Zeis, a student in the class.
However, the only thing missing was a mascot.
“We felt it necessary to have a mascot distinguish our toy drive from others,” Zeis said.
That’s where Hooper comes in. Hooper, a yellow Labrador Retriever, is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina. He was adopted by Paley after the storm and brought to New York from Louisiana.
Hooper is a trained and certified pet therapy dog and reading buddy. He has his own Facebook profile and there is also a Facebook group dedicated to the toy drive.Hooper made an appearance on campus early in the semester to star in his own photo shoot for the fliers that have been displayed around campus.
The name of the toy drive came from St. John’s own Red Storm mascot and Hooper’s rescue from Hurricane Katrina.
Hooper’s Holiday Toy Storm has joined together with Campus Ministry, Residence Life, the Athletics Department, and Greek Life in order to get as many students involved as possible.
The goal of the toy drive is to gather and donate 500 toys to donate to charities identified by the University in connection to Campus Ministry and Academic Service Learning.
The collective effort to bring toys to children who would normally have nothing is reflective of the principles and beliefs of St. John’s.
The students in the class have been working tirelessly to raise funds and get the student body involved.
A bake sale during the Homecoming soccer game raised money for extra necessities, like wrapping paper and accessories.
Fliers featuring Hooper were placed around the campus in the first wave of advertising.
The second set of flyers debuted last week, advertising the upcoming toy collection. The class has also been working with various corporations who would be interested in participating in a community outreach program.
Target and Kohl’s are two organizations that the students have reached out to, with Kohl’s donating close to 75 stuffed animals.
The work that the students in Paley’s class are doing is compable to that of many public relations executives in the real world.
The toy drive will officially begin next month and will continue until the end of the semester.
Starting on Nov. 3, boxes will be placed throughout the campus, including in the Campus Ministry offices, to collect the toys. Students and faculty can drop off new, unwrapped toys in any of the boxes.