After announcing less than two weeks ago that he wanted to fill a U-Haul truck with toys for children in “the hood,” St. Louis hip-hop artist Thi’sl has revealed that he has met his goal.
In a video published on his Twitter account on December 17, Thi’sl (born Travis Tyler) showed just how much partners and contributors showed up for kids in need this Christmas season.
Initially showing a few boxes of toys and other items inside the U-Haul he had been using to house donations, Thi’sl then walked into a Cricket Wireless store near where the truck was parked. Inside the store were dozens of toys neatly piled up in a corner.
“This we got today from the toy drive,” Thi’sl announced, before a camera panned across the collection of new toys.
“It’s a full-ride Christmas,” the rapper and philanthropist added.
Remember I said, “I wanted to fill up a U-Haul truck with toys 🧸 for kids in my city?” Guess what, “WE DID IT!”
Wait until you see what we’re going to do with them! pic.twitter.com/SxhQv0i0Xb
— KING THI'SL (@Thisl) December 18, 2019
On his Twitter page he gave “big thanks to my friends @Cricketnation @Boost1019 @MissionStLouis and every single one of you that dropped off toys, mailed toys or sent donations.”
When everything was counted and sorted, the donations totaled 2,000 toys, five bikes, and six scooters.
Thi’sl kicked off collections for the “Full Ride Christmas Toy Drive” at the Cricket Wireless store just days ago on Dec. 14, although he made the announcement earlier.
He revealed in an previous interview with radio station Boost 101.9 that he has done similar acts of kindness in times past. While he previously spent thousands of dollars of his own money for Christmas outreach activities, this year’s Christmas toy drive was the first time he found partners to help carry the financial load.
“When a kid wakes up on Christmas morning and they have nothing and then they go outside and their friends have something, there’s a hopelessness that sets in.”
In addition to making sure local kids in need get to experience the joy of receiving gifts this season, the rapper said he also donates toys in an effort to be a role model to them.
“That’s what I do it for. Because you know what? If they don’t get to look up to somebody like me, you know who gonna do that [sic]–the drug dealer. The drug dealer gonna do the back to school [outreach], the drug dealer gonna do the Christmas [outreach],” he said. “They gonna look up to him and say ‘I want to be like him.’”
He confessed, “That’s who I wanted to be like growing up because nobody else was doing it.”
The rapper also revealed that he grew up in a neighborhood that was “right at the poverty level or below,” so he was used to be one of the kids he’s aiming to bless this Christmas.
He added that the underlying motivation for organizing the Christmas toy drive, previously treating local kids to a screening of “Black Panther,” and regularly visiting with students in schools and men in prisons was to provide hope.
“What Christmas is about, even from a gospel perspective, is hope. Like, my hope placed into my Savior, my hope placed into being redeemed. When a kid wakes up on Christmas morning and they have nothing and then they go outside and their friends have something, there’s a hopelessness that sets in,” Thi’sl said.
The rapper’s recent EP album, “Small Thing To A Giant,” was partly inspired by a near-death situation he faced in September 2018. Thi’sl was attacked by an armed robber and ended up in a wheelchair and unable to walk for several months. Out of that experience, he deems “Small Thing To A Giant” his “best music to date.” The 42-year-old Grammy-winning rapper has been active since 2007 and remains an independent artist with Full Ride Music Group.