The toy drive began with first throwing all of the stuffed animals up in the air. This was to show support to the team, keep up with a team tradition. Then the toys were gathered and given to Haxby’s Bears.
This is an organization which collects and then distributes new and gently used stuffed animals to police and fire departments, hospitals and other agencies which work with kids. Brandi Benson, the journalism teacher at Southwest and co-sponsor of the Southwest Fan Federation, couldn’t be more proud. “It gave me goosebumps,” she said. “My hair was standing on end. I said, ‘You did it. You came up with an idea.’ This is how a legacy starts.”
She adds she has been encouraging the seniors to think about the legacy they want to leave and to help create fan legacies like the ones they have in older high schools. She also wanted to make the seniors think more about the others and get them to support as many school events as possible.
Initially, the students wanted to do something with paint, like cover themselves with it or throw the powdered stuff like they do in color runs. But LPS has new policies and a newly renovated set of bleachers at Seacrest that limit painted bodies and messy displays of spirit. Instead Benson asked the student leaders to find something different – a theme nobody’s done before. Seniors AJ Wiley and Logan Foster complied. Come to the game dressed in pajamas, they said. Bring stuffed animals. Help kids in crisis.
The result was superb. Everyone who came did that and there were more than 100 stuffed animals gathered and donated. “It was awesome. It was definitely a proud moment”, Benson adds.