Assumption ‘Tickets for Tots’ Program Celebrates 15 Years of Helping Worcester Community
BY DEVIN M. COLEMAN-GANLEY ‘14
With the Christmas season comes favorite traditions and celebrations of the holiday spirit. At Assumption College, the annual “Tickets for Tots” drive lets members of the campus community come together in a festive atmosphere and support a good cause to help those in the greatest of need. This year’s program was held Dec. 11.
Tickets for Tots was established at Assumption 15 years ago by campus police Lt. Keith Hough. The idea was to allow students to pay off campus parking tickets by donating toys, which would be collected by the College and given to a worthy cause, such as the Marine Corps League's "Toys for Tots" program.
Lt. Hough originally pitched the idea as a way to provide students with the opportunity to relieve the stress of an unpaid parking ticket while simultaneously helping the College’s neighbors struggling to make ends meet.
“The purpose of the event is to make a bad situation a positive,” Hough said of the program, which quickly grew. “After about two years, we decided that we needed to bring more attention to it."
That year, “Santa” attended the event to take photographs with those in attendance for a $1 donation. Now, Tickets for Tots has an entire cast of characters to assist Santa in his charitable efforts. He was accompanied this year by an elf, a gingerbread man, a snowman, a Christmas mouse, a Christmas penguin, a nutcracker, Rudolph and Mrs. Claus, who always brings homemade cookies.
As the program developed and received more recognition, Lt. Hough said he would receive calls as early as September from students making sure the event would happen. Today, students and faculty are able to make a $10 monetary donation or donate a toy of the same value. All of the money collected goes to the Telegram & Gazette Santa Fund.
Monetary donations support a different cause each year. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, a few Assumption faculty and staff loaded up their car trunk with a portion of the toys and drove to Louisiana to deliver them and assist with clean-up efforts. When Assumption’s gate officer Jeffery Means passed away in 2012, money collected during that year was donated in his name. Money collected this year will be donated in memory of Assumption alumna Colleen Ritzer ’11, the Danvers High School math teacher whose life tragically ended in October 2013.
Lt. Hough is proud of the way the Assumption community has continued to participate in the event, especially with the state of the economy. Their donations help the city of Worcester and provide a happier holiday for its residents.
“We appreciate and are thankful for everyone who contributes to this event,” Hough said.
Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College