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WVU Students Giving Back for the Holidays

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MORGANTOWN -

It's that time of year again when West Virginia University students are helping kids have a jollier Christmas.

The university's Toy Mountain is taking shape, but the mountain is just the peak of what students are doing to give back.

Not only does Toy Mountain collect gifts to give to underprivileged children, but in December students will take kids on the shopping adventure of their life.

"I had the opportunity to go last year, and in my four-years here, it's one of my favorite moments. To see the faces of the kids, and the joy it brings to them is really, really powerful," said WVU President Jim Clements.

On Saturday December 8, Students Helping Other People, or SHOP, will load up buses and take underprivileged kids toy shopping at Kmart.

Each year the eager shoppers grin from ear-to-ear as their paired up buddy helps brighten their Christmas.

"This time of year it's more important than ever to make sure people are happy, and that families are able to experience a happy Christmas," said Ryan Cox, a student organizer for both events.

Inside the Mountainlair, the 26th annual Toy Mountain is growing.

The large pile of toys is donated each year to local charities. The pile is built on public donations and the students' hard work.

"We want this mountain to be huge by the time the holidays and Christmas rolls around," said President Clements. "If you think about this university we do so much in the community, this is a perfect example of our students, a student led activity really making a difference."

Last year nearly $20,000 in toys and monetary donations funded Toy Mountain and SHOP. This year's bar is set even higher.

"Last year we were able to go down to Lewis County and take a bundle of toys down there and give it to a community center and really see firsthand the impact the kids opening those presents have," said Cox. "And it's a really good feeling. You truly get a good sense of appreciation of the kind of impact you have on the community."

If you would like to donate to the mountain you can drop off toys at the Mountainlair. Collections will also take place at the December 8, men's and women's basketball games.

Checks can be made out to WVU SHOP and mailed to: Sue Henry, Student Organizations Services, PO Box 6444, Morgantown, WV 26506