COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Written by: Bill Sutley
Hundreds of area children and families will soon benefit from the holiday spirit of giving at Columbus State University and beyond.
University Police on Friday began distributing more than 1,500 toys, canned goods and other items donated through the second annual Cougars for Causes drive at CSU.
Nearly $500 in cash donations collected by off-campus partners also will be distributed.
"We do it to try and make a difference in people's lives," said University Police Sgt. Brett Stanelle, who coordinated the effort.
Stanelle was leading a CSU contingent on Friday traveling to drop off collected items at:
-Feeding the Valley food bank
-St. Anne Community Outreach
-Open Door Community House
-Valley Rescue Mission
-Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus
-Santa's Castle, a Fort Benning program supporting children in military families.
Students, faculty and staff donated 1,564 items, mostly leaving them in 15 colorful bins spread throughout both main and RiverPark campuses during the month-long effort, now in its second year.
University Police created Cougars for Causes after first simply collecting stuffed animals to distribute to children hospitalized or others in need, as part of a larger annual effort staged by Columbus-area law enforcement.
With all the contributions from Cougars for Causes, University Police participate in that distribution effort in a much larger way when officers spread out throughout the community on Friday, Dec. 20. University Police expect to distribute the remaining Cougars for Causes items then at:
-Midtown Medical Center
-Ronald McDonald House
-St. Francis Hospital
This year, more entities beyond campus asked to be involved in Cougars for Causes, resulting in participation by Columbus-area Circle K and Dollar General stores, as well as Kohl's, Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie.
Beyond some gift items, said Stanelle, $480.27 was donated via small donations to external partners. Those donations were being converted into gift cards for cash that local nonprofits could distribute.