NGU News

NGU Community Donates Christmas Gifts During LEO Santa Toy Drive

Posted on: December 7, 2023
By Billy Cannada,

Tigerville, SC (December 7, 2023) North Greenville University (NGU) students got an early visit from Santa Claus on Monday afternoon.

The university partnered with officers from the Travelers Rest Police Department, collecting new, unwrapped toys for children in need as part of the annual LEO Santa Toy Drive.

“We served around 2,000 children last year, collecting toys in 50-60 law enforcement vehicles,” said Billy Crank, LEO Santa’s board of directors treasurer. “It’s a great event with great support.”

Donning a red suit, white beard, and a jolly smile, Crank posed for pictures with students outside of Todd Dining Hall.

“Initiatives such as these foster a sense of community and solidarity,” said Chief Jeff Smith, director of NGU’s Campus Safety and Security. “They bring people together for a common cause, promoting empathy and kindness at such a special time of year.”

Crank said law enforcement’s participation in the toy drive is important for the families it benefits.

“When you think about law enforcement, the only time these guys are seen by kids, it’s likely to be during a traumatic experience,” he said. “For the kids to be able to see them as humans that care about them, it cannot be understated how important that is.”

Smith, who helped the Greer Police Department organize its Cops for Tots event for decades, agreed.

“It humanizes officers and strengthens their relationship with the people they serve,” Smith said. “It’s a chance for law enforcement to show care and support for the community beyond their traditional roles, fostering goodwill and trust.”

Smith said expressing generosity around the holiday season can go a long way.

“For children, especially those from families facing economic challenges, receiving gifts during the holidays can be incredibly meaningful,” Smith said. “It brings them joy, boosts their spirits, and creates lasting memories. This not only impacts the children positively but also alleviates stress for parents who may not have the means to provide gifts.”

For Crank and the law enforcement officers who will eventually deliver the gifts, there’s a bit of magic involved as well.

“There is nothing like the magic in the eyes of a child when they look up at Santa Claus,’ he said. “It gets me every time.”

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