‘Tis the season for giving at Forest Park

By Rylie Frohock
The Scene staff

Forest Park students, faculty and staff are giving back to the community this holiday season.

One project is a food drive spearheaded by Rick Anthes, chair of automotive studies, and Linda Basich, administrative secretary for the business, math, and technology department.

“People are always hungry, especially around the holidays,” Anthes said.

He and Basich got other departments involved to make the food drive one big campus effort. They have been collecting items for Foodbank St. Louis since early November and will continue through Dec. 9.

Donation boxes are located in G-017, F-342, D-300, H-233, B-228, L-021 and C-322. The drive is mostly for non-perishable food. A list of the 35 most-needed items are posted on the sides of boxes.

“Food is just a basic necessity,” Anthes said. “So many people take it for granted. … If you can help somebody else, especially around the holidays, you should feel pretty good.”

Foodbank St. Louis distributes food to smaller pantries in St. Louis, St. Louis County and surrounding areas from its warehouse in Maryland Heights.

Two years ago, Anthes organized a canned goods drive in his department, with help from fellow faculty member Josh Walker.

That drive was called “Escaping Hunger.” The goal was filling the back of a Ford Escape with canned goods.

“We wanted to be on a larger scale this time and get the whole campus involved, not just our division,” Walker said.

Anthes and Walker expect a better outcome with this year’s food drive because of increased participation. Some departments filled their original donation boxes and started on second ones.

“I expect at least twice as much, if not more,” Walker said.

“We might have to make two trips,” Anthes added.


Another holiday project on campus involves the Forest Park Veterans Club, which has organized a Toys for Tots drive through the Marine Corps every year since the club formed four years ago.

Club sponsor Michael Downey, a hospitality studies professor and former Marine, estimates that 15 to 20 unwrapped toys are donated annually.

“You know, students are on tight budgets,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of toys, but every toy counts. (Relatively speaking), students have been very generous.”

Donation boxes are located by the Information Desk and in the Veterans Office. Toys will be accepted through the end of finals week. They can range from dolls to remote-control cars to stuffed animals.

The Marine Corps founded the Toys for Tots program in 1947. Officials like to have all the toys wrapped and distributed the week before Christmas. They’re taken to homeless shelters and churches, where parents pick them up.

“Can you imagine it being Christmas and not getting a toy?” Downey asked. “So for the kids, it’s just as important for the parents to be able to give them that memory.”