As the economy continues to slide, affecting families nationwide, two Peer Mentors at The Verrazano School at the College of Staten Island decided to do something to bring some holiday cheer to Staten Island children in need.

Christina Rossi and Stephanie Vlismas, both sophomores, organized a Toys for Tots Drive to coincide with the Peer Mentor team’s end-of-semester holiday party and by the time the collecting was complete they had received approximately 50 toys, donated by freshman, sophomore, and junior students.

Christina Rossi Rossi and Vlismas then arranged for the toys to be picked up by the Marine Corps League for distribution to local children.

Katie Geschwendt, Coordinator of The Verrazano School and the FIRST Program at CSI notes that this is the second community outreach effort that has been organized by the Peer Mentors, commenting that Mentors collected school supplies for P.S. 16 during New Student Orientation before the fall 2008 semester.

As for the recent toy drive, Geschwendt says that “this was the first Toys for Tots drive run through the program, but …the Mentors are enthusiastic about making this a recurring event.”

Explaining one of the reasons for their hard work and commitment, Geschwendt explains, “The mentors felt that it was important to engage new students through giving back to the Staten Island community. Many of the Verrazano students grew up on Staten Island and feel a strong connection to the local schools, so the Toys for Tots drive was one way to show their support for Staten Island youth. Through the efforts of the Mentors as well as the generous contributions of Verrazano students, the drive was a success. It is a great privilege to work with students who are conscientious and motivated, and I am grateful to the Peer Mentors for their service to the program and for organizing the Toys for Tots Drive.”

Verrazano School Peer Mentors work in teams of two during the fall semester to provide mentoring for incoming freshmen within a Verrazano School learning community. They help freshmen with the transition from high school to college in some of the following ways: assist with navigating the CSI campus, organize social events for students, communicate with faculty, keep students updated on program events and information, organize study groups for classes, and generally serve as a resource for new CSI students in The Verrazano School.

CSI Peer Mentors at The Verrazano School organized a Toys for Tots Drive