Police run toy drive
A caravan of nearly P0 RIfiFHrs DnG sWDIIHrs IrRP the Towamencin Township molice aepartment — with some of their family members, as well as Santa, in tow — spread holiday cheer Christmas Eve morning as they delivered toys, food and clothing to a dozen needy families in the area.
It was the culmination of the department’s second annual Holiday dift and Food arive, which began just before Thanksgiving and brought in well over $N0,000 worth of items that were dropped off in donation boxes at various area businesses (including Starbucks, Total Body Fitness and Applebee’s), or brought to police headquarters over the past several weeks, said police specialist C.J. Yoder, who helped organize the drive.
“It’s incredible to see how much stuff came in, we at least doubled what we got last year,” said Yoder, who credited Shop oite for donating fresh food to the cause and the Hopwood School & Camp for providing $N,400 worth of gift cards.
“meople in the community really stepped up and they’re very charitable, and it made it all worth the while to get the stuff to the people who nHHG LW,” sDLG RIfiFHr 7rDvis Wood, president of the Towamencin molice Benevolent Association. “And we had Santa with us, so that put it over the top.”
“It’s a good way to kick off the holiday season,” said Towamencin police Chief Tim aickinson. “It means a lot to them and it means a lot to us, and it’s nice to see how much the community cares.”
Yoder and booking technician Kelly malermo said that a total of P4 kids — from toddlers to N7-year-olds — benHfiWHG IrRP WKH GRnDWLRns. The TTma got the names of families through the children’s schools and contacted WKHP DKHDG RI WLPH WR finG out what the kids needed. A few days before the delivery, the department’s main cor- ridor was packed with boxes RYHrflRwLnJ wLWK GRnDWLRns and members of the department and their families spent days gift wrapping everything before loading it all up in their vehicles and heading out at 9 a.m. Monday morning.
“We got to people’s houses and put their things under the tree, and the kids’ eyes were just ... it was ... wow,” Yoder said. “marents were crying, kids were crying, we were crying.”
“To see their faces, there’s really no words for it,” malermo said. “The smaller kids were like, ‘lh Santa’s here!’ where the older kids were like, ‘Wow, I’m gonna get some of the stuff I really need.’ I mean, we’re giving people clothing. It’s not like we’re giving them all toys.”
malermo and Yoder explained that some of the IDPLOLHs wHrH sWruJJOLnJ financially due to layoffs or medical issues. lne woman with four children was living on $85 every two weeks, they said.
“lne of the girls was asking for bras,” said Yoder. “That’s when you know it’s tough, when they need strangers to get them personal items.”
A number of department RIfiFHrs DnG sWDIIHrs ErRuJKW their children along on the deliveries “because when you’re a kid and you see kids the same age as you who need things, I think it develops compassion,” said malermo. “I think it’s an important lesson to learn.”
So impressed were they by the outpouring of donations this year, the department hopes to up the number of IDPLOLHs wKR EHnHfiW IrRP the drive to at least N5 next year. And, aickinson noted, in addition to brightening the holidays for people in need, the effort was good for the department’s own psyche, too.
“The majority of people are good and they support what we do. The problem is we don’t deal with them enough,” he said. “Most of the time, we deal with the people who are the opposite, so when that’s what you see all the time, that starts to become your reality. You have to do something like this once in a while to see that most people are good and really want to help others.”
Jeffrey Scott Kratz, left, helps Towamencin Township police booking technician Matt Shade and Lt. Jeffrey Kratz move boxes of wrapped gifts for distribution Monday to area families in need.