BENNINGTON -- Southwest Vermont College's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee donated approximately 200 toys to the Bennington-Rutland Opportunity Council, better known as BROC, on Tuesday.

The student athletes could be seen on four occasions over the past few weeks at a table in front of the Yankee One Dollar Store, 210 Northside Drive, bringing awareness to their effort, as well as plenty of donations.

According to a press release from the organization, SAAC had been collecting toys for all ages in and around Bennington and on the SVC campus. "Everybody in SAAC did a great job in making sure this holiday toy drive was a success," said Anthony Ayala, SVC senior and president of SAAC, of Pico Rivera, Calif., "After being in the Bennington area for three years now, it's a great feeling to be able to give back to the community that I've become a part of." Ayala plays soccer, volleyball, and baseball for the college.

The SAAC is a committee made up of student-athletes assembled to "provide insight on the student-athlete experience," according to the release. SAAC also offers input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes' lives on NCAA member institution campuses.

"I'm very proud of the effort that our student-athletes put toward the toy drive. This was an amazing opportunity for our athletes to give back to the community and help local families enjoy the holiday season," said Dave Gage, head baseball coach and advisor to the SAAC.

The toys will be distributed by BROC to area families in need. According to its website, BROC, which was founded in 1965, "is committed to empower, support and educate individuals and families to be self sufficient in their employment, homes and communities through family stabilization and development; education, training and job creation; affordable housing; and expanding community awareness and advocacy in a nurturing environment of respect and dignity ever mindful of cultural diversity."

"Every year it gets harder and harder for people to be able to provide some extra gifts for their kids at Christmas," said Maryann St. John, county supervisor for community services at BROC. "With fuel assistance and food stamp cuts, and the other kinds of cutbacks going on right now, this is really a big benefit for our clients to be able to have some toys and gifts for their kids without worrying about also trying to pay for fuel."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB