Toys for Tots: LaFayette Bell

Jingle Bell: LaFayette Bell does a little Christmas rapping for Toys for Tots.

Recording artist LaFayette Bell is proud of his work with the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Foundation. Bell, of Houston, is equally proud of the jingle he wrote and recorded to promote the annual toy drive.

Since 1997, his rap jingle has been played all over the country to spread the word about Toys for Tots. The foundation included the jingle on a CD compilation of holiday songs by the likes of Nat King Cole and Kix Brooks, formerly of country duo Brooks & Dunn.

“I submitted it to let the organization use it as a jingle,” says Bell. “They don’t pay for the promotion. You can’t just write Nabisco and say you want to write a jingle.”

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Bell, who drives a school bus and serves as CEO of his own Diamond State Records, was a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves. He is no longer in the reserves, but retained the title Sgt. Bell for his recording career. Bell continues to volunteer for the toys program each year from October through December, as he has for the past 20 years.

Bell says the jingle, along with his other hip-hop projects, are meant to let youth and the African-American community know how they can help others through Toys for Tots. The jingle and a full-length rap song that Bell recorded last year are aired on college and university campuses, including Delaware State University.

Delawareans can hear the jingle this month as Bell teams with OC 104, an Ocean City, Md.-based radio station, to do a series of live remote broadcasts in southern Delaware to publicize the toy drive. Bell, who is also working to promote his own musical career, as well as the careers of others, says the jingle and his work for Toys for Tots has been a plus.

“It’s a door opener to a lot of things,” he says. (—Drew Ostroski

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