The St. Petersburg College Allstate Center held its inaugural Winter Wonderland Toy Drive on Dec. 16. About 80 people participated in the event and more than 300 toys were donated.
“This kind of event helps to bridge the gap in the south St. Petersburg community, because a lot of times they don’t think of police officers or the law in a positive light,” said La’Kesha O’Neal, Community Relations Coordinator in Marketing and Strategic Communications.
In addition to the toy drive, which benefited the Harbordale YMCA in south St. Petersburg, the event also gave children an opportunity to have their photographs taken with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and elves in a North Pole-style setting.
O’Neal said Scott Fronrath, the new Provost at the Allstate Center, is helping members of the community change their perspective about the campus. The Allstate Center has long been known as the campus that primarily trains police and other emergency responders.
“You could see it on their faces at first,” she said. “They came in and were at first a little intimidated. But you could see a change in their reactions when they came inside and realized they were welcome here. Dr. Fronrath and the Allstate Center team are helping the community see that the campus isn’t just about training police: it’s also a community campus.”
See more photos on the campus’ Facebook page.