For Samantha Carr, a young mother struggling to put food on the table, the toy giveaway spearheaded by Anne Farmer, Community Service Officer with the Oakdale Police Department, made Christmas possible for her 2-year-old son Johnny.
And it’s stories like the Carrs that make the entire event joyful and worthwhile for the volunteers and those who donated to the cause because it matters to the people often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation.
For some people Christmas is just another day, for they have nothing to give and expect to receive nothing in return. But for children, watching as others bask in the warm holiday glow, delighting in their bounty, it’s a day filled with sadness.
Not on Farmer’s watch.
Five hundred of Oakdale’s youngest community members received at least one toy to unwrap Christmas morning and if Farmer had her way, every child would receive something to light up their holiday.
“I know our community is really hurting just making ends meet,” Farmer said. “And this is what Christmas is all about, reaching out to those in need.”
Each child received one toy and stocking fillers, Farmer said.
Carr, smiling as her son delighted in the handmade fire engine given to him and made by Bob New specifically for this year’s toy giveaway, shared, “It’s really awesome for the community to help like this. It really helps. I just got a job but I don’t get paid until after Christmas. Without this toy giveaway, we wouldn’t have a Christmas.”
New spent months in the summer heat handcrafting 75 solid wood fire engines for the event, turning his garage into a temporary toy making workshop on deadline for the special day.
“I worked every day after work,” New said. “I started in July and worked up until last week to finish.”
Originally, he’d committed to making 40 fire engines but decided to keep going until he “ran out of money or time,” he said.
The engines, carved from redwood fencing posts and shipping crates, delighted the children receiving them, proving children still appreciate toys powered by imagination.
“Normally we pick out a child at the supermarket (giving tree) but this year we decided to pick several,” New’s wife Gloria said. “It’s been wonderful seeing their faces…just amazing.”
CAPS (Citizen Auxiliary Police Services) volunteer Sally Cole brought her 8-year-old granddaughter Jade to help at the wrapping station, where she helped hand out wrapping paper and smiles.
Farmer heaped much praise on her CAPS helpers, saying, “CAPS are such a huge help. Without them we couldn’t accomplish the task.”
“This is such a rewarding program,” Cole said. “Hopefully, it has some impact on Christmas for those participating.”
Judging by the smiles, it might be safe to say that an impact was made — and appreciated.
“This is why we do this,” Farmer said, her eyes shining. “This is what it’s all about.”