Jesse Morgan, a 2015 adult and organizational development alumnus, hosted his first annual holiday toy drive for Philadelphia youth.
Over the past month, Morgan, who played for the men’s basketball team, and his sister Dalarse Demby hosted drop-off centers at the Gustine Recreation Center in East Falls and the Martin Luther King Recreation Center on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 21st Street.
Demby said they have collected more than 80 toys, which will be donated on Saturday to the Friendship House, a family-based nonprofit near Germantown that offers a foster care program.
Morgan and Demby also organized a Secret Santa event where they’ll offer gifts to three chosen families from the Friendship House. They worked with sponsors to secure items on the children’s wish list.
For the last few years, Morgan has been involved with community outreach and wanted to find more ways to give back.
“So the toy drive idea was just a chance to give back to those who are less fortunate and kind of share Christmas with those in need,” said Morgan, who is currently playing professional basketball in Germany. “I wanted to make sure that those who haven’t had a great experience during Christmas in the last few years wouldn’t miss out this year and I wanted to try my best to make it happen.”
Since he’s abroad, Morgan said his sister Demby has been helpful in organizing the toy drive.
“Everything we’ve done in the past for our community we’ve done together,” Morgan said. “She has been a big help over the years, not just this season, but in general for me communicating with people back home.”
From Germany, Morgan is buying some of the gifts and toys for the families. He’s also been reaching out to friends and colleagues to get more people to donate money or toys.
The last day to drop off donations is Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the MLK Center.
Morgan also hopes to find more ways to give back to the community in the near future.
“I am bridging the gap of helping people help others,” Morgan said. “I am trying to make it bigger than me and about the city of Philadelphia. I have been giving as much as I can and also trying to get the whole community involved. So there’s a lot of things coming up and this is just the start.”