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MCGILL: Marshall Football's Heartwarming Toy Drive a Success

Doc Holliday signs a football for a young fan during the Marshall football team's annual toy drive at the Walmart in Barboursville.
Dec. 11, 2016

By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.Doc Holliday stared at the list in the palm of his hand. Boys names and girls names, some as young as 12 months old, all with one thing in common.

“All of these kids don’t have any toys for Christmas,” he said. “It’s terrible.”

Holliday, Marshall University's head football coach, stood outside of the Barboursville Walmart on Saturday for the athletic department’s Kick-off for Kids Toy Drive. The entire Marshall football team attended, plus Holliday, athletic director Mike Hamrick, assistant coaches, various athletic administration and staff members. Marshall parked its 48-foot long equipment trunk on a concrete pad outside of the front door of the store, and Holliday and others helped stack the toys people dropped off.

Some people brought toys to the site. Others purchased items inside the store and handed them over on their way to their cars. One lady handed the players $100, and the players grabbed a couple shopping carts and filled them up until all of that money was gone. At the end of the four-hour toy drive, money raised by selling raffle tickets was used to buy additional toys, all of which were loaded in the back of the equipment truck and taken back to campus.

A representative from Walmart said more than $10,000 worth of toys was purchased during the toy drive.



“This is our fourth straight year to do it, and I hope as long as I’m here we’ll continue to do this,” said Mark Gale, Marshall’s assistant athletic director for football operations. “I would guesstimate, in four years, we’ve probably brought in well over $50,000 in toys that we’ve been able to distribute.”

Marshall football players were scattered throughout the store offering assistance to shoppers. Some helped pick out toys or carry groceries. Others sold raffle tickets, posed for photos with fans and signed memorabilia.

The equipment truck was towed back to campus from Barboursville after the event and stationed on the tarmac outside of the Henderson Center prior to the Thundering Herd’s home men’s basketball game against Toledo on Saturday night. The athletic department ticket office offered $5 off the regular game ticket price in exchange for a toy, and dozens of Herd fans brought board games and stuff animals and bags of gifts to add to the pile.

Gale and the equipment staff will begin sorting the toys Monday, and then sites will be identified on where to send the toys. Holliday will take care of the names of the boys and girls on his list.

“I’m blessed,” said Gale, “and there are others who are not as fortunate as I am. I want to do anything I can do to put a smile on a face. I close my eyes and try to imagine a young boy or young girl coming down the stairs and maybe they wouldn’t get the opportunity to open a gift or a toy.

“Picturing them being able to do that warms my heart.”