For 500 local children Christmas Day was not without dolls, trucks, and Legos as the first ever police department sponsored toy drive not only delivered the goods, but the smiles as the community rallied to donate bins of new toys for the cause spearheaded by Senior Outreach Coordinator Ann Farmer.
Farmer started a small movement from the heart that blossomed into a rousing success as children ages 2 to 10 years came to the Community Center on Wednesday, Dec. 23 to receive a brand new toy.
The Oakdale Police Department, in partnership with the Family Support Network, Save Mart, and ROTA hosted the toy give-away and collection bins were placed throughout the city at designated locations.
Farmer, her face aglow from the warmth radiating from her heart, said although two weeks before the date the bins were empty, she didn’t worry.
“I wasn’t discouraged at all,” Farmer shared. “I knew Oakdale would come through because this is such a caring, generous community.”
About a week to the big day, the calls started coming in, spreading like a brush fire fed by a stiff wind.
“People were asking, ‘where can we drop off toys’? and within the last minute we had 500 toys donated,” Farmer said.
Several local businesses stepped up to the plate, offering assistance in a myriad of ways from donated coffee and sandwiches for the volunteers to an appearance by Mr. Pickles as he waved and danced, entertaining the littlest of visitors as they received their toys.
And even though an operation such as this could’ve been a nightmare to coordinate, Farmer simply smiled.
“I can’t believe how well everything came together. It was awesome,” she said. “The generosity of Oakdale is overwhelming. The economy is tough but they have given so much because they care. When Christmas Day comes, I’m going to know the little children will have their gift. We did it as a community and it feels awesome.”
Due to the event’s success, plans are in the works to have another toy drive next year.