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Felton teen covers Toys for Tots rap jingle

Andre Lamar * Delaware
andre.lamar@doverpost.com
Dover Post

Lake Forest High School grad Sara Brand used to donate gifts to Toys for Tots.

Now one of her most significant gifts was lending her voice to create a jingle that the organization will promote nationally this fall, to help raise toy donations for disadvantaged families.

Brand covered Sgt. Bell The Rapper’s song named “Toys for Tots,” which the organization originally promoted on military bases around the country from 1998 to 2007, Bell said.

Bell, whose real name is LaFayette Bell, said the cover has a soft rock/country-folk twist and was recorded under Diamond State Records and Messaging, which he owns. Toys for Tots will aim to promote the song around October, he added.

The collaboration between Brand and Bell was born from a connection the two share from Lake Forest.

“He was my school bus driver and he makes these little videos on YouTube. I guess they’re mini movies. He asked me to help him out with one of them,” said Brand, 18, of Felton. “Eventually he came to me and asked if I wanted to help him out and do a cover of his jingle, and I did. We did some photo shoots for it and we got a billboard up for Toys for Tots.”

Bell, of Houston, has been collecting gifts for Toys for Tots since 1992, the year after he enlisted in the Marines. He’s been involved ever since, because he wants to make life easier for struggling families.

“I grew up on welfare. I really can’t say whether I ever received Toys for Tots, because I don’t remember. When I was coming up, kids didn’t really know what was going on, unless you stumbled across it. I wasn’t about to ask [my family] anything,” he explained.

Bell said he’s happy Toys for Tots picked up his rap jingle in 1998, and now Brand’s cover of it, because the organization needs music that speaks to this generation of kids.

“I was telling Toys for Tots it’s always good to have something out there for younger people to listen to, because they really were hard pressed [back in the day] to use a lot of Nat King Cole tracks,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But 20 years ago when your World War II veterans were around, that was cool. But they began to pass away.”

Brand just graduated from Lake Forest. She said her music career is going to be on hold, since she’ll be transitioning as a freshman at Wesley College, majoring in biochemistry. She’s on a volleyball scholarship.

Brand’s thankful her song can help get the word out for kids, so they can have something to look forward to under the Christmas tree.

“It’s awesome I get to help people,” the 18-year-old said. “I worked at a lot of places that had drop boxes, and I’d at least put one thing in there. I’d always tell people to drop something off for them. It’s awesome I can help, because I know a lot of people can’t have the Christmases that I’ve had.”