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Thursday, June 1, 2023


Cougars partner with KHOU for holiday toy drive

The Cougar/ Justin Tijerina

Head coach Tom Herman and the Cougar football team are joining forced with KHOU in the annual Secret Santa Toy Drive. | File photo/The Cougar

The Houston football program is partnering with KHOU 11 this holiday season, playing host to the television station’s annual Secret Santa Toy Drive during the game against the United States Naval Academy Nov. 27, at TDECU Stadium.

Fans attending the sold-out game are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toys to Shasta Square outside the stadium, where KHOU will have a tent and collection boxes set up before the 11 a.m. kickoff.

This will be the first year that the Cougars will be involved in the program.

“I can’t imagine having to see the look on your child’s face without a toy at Christmas,” Herman said. “Hopefully, this will not only brighten the lives of all the kids that benefit from it, but the parents as well. All you want as a parent is for your kids to be happy.”

All donations will be distributed to children registered with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.

“No family should have to choose between paying the bills or getting their children a gift for Christmas,” Salvation Army of Greater Houston Area Commander, Maj. Chris Flanagan said. “With the donations made by KHOU viewers, we are able to fulfill our promise to families in need of providing them gifts that they can then give to their (children).”

Community marketing and public relations specialist at KHOU Melissa Gilbert is a UH alumna and is seeking an MBA at the Bauer College of Business.

After seeing firsthand the buzz surrounding the football team both on and off campus, Gilbert saw an opportunity for another partnership between KHOU and UH.

“Tom Herman is doing such a fantastic job with the team,” Gilbert said. “The whole student body is really excited. I know the alumni are excited, and having all of that excitement will really help draw attention to the toy drive. I’m grateful that UH is using all of the momentum behind them for a good cause.”

When Gilbert approached UH Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications David Bassity about teaming up, he saw it as a natural fit as well.

“KHOU is a proud sponsor of ours, so they reached out to us to see if we’d be interested in partnering with them,” Bassity said. “Coach Herman is passionate about his involvement in the community, so it made perfect sense for to do it, and we have the great opportunity with 40,000 plus fans all coming to one location.”

Last year, the toy drive generated over 19,600 gifts for Houston area families, but the University hopes to see those numbers increase this holiday season.

“KHOU and the Salvation Army have been tied together for years, and it’s been successful year-in and year-out,” Bassity said. “If we play a minor role in it being more successful than in years past, go 1-0 in that sense, then that’s something that we want to be involved in.”

Herman sees this a prime opportunity to not only serve the city, but also set an example for others.

“I hope that, in some small way, it can spark others to get involved,” Herman said. “This is the best city in America, and we need to do everything we can as Houstonians to make sure it stays that way.”

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