WESTPORT, Conn. — The holiday season is a busy time for Westport’s finest. In addition to working around-the-clock to keep residents safe, officers collect toys for hundreds of underprivileged children around Fairfield County through the Police Department’s annual Holiday Toy Drive.
A department tradition, the toy drive benefits a number of local organizations and nonprofits, like Homes With Hope, the Norwalk Community Health Center, the Carver Center in Norwalk, St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bridgeport and and St. Vincent’s SWIM Center. Each organization then distributes the toys to families they serve.
“We are truly touched each and every year to see the generosity and kind spirits of those who donate to our drive,” said Sgt. Jill Ruggiero, who’s overseen the toy drive for the past 13 years. “Thousands of toys are collected each year and given to children who would not have had anything for the holidays.”
This year, the department is also partnering with Newtown Kindness, a nonprofit formed in honor of Charlotte Bacon, one of the 20 children killed last December in the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Ruggiero said a portion of this year’s toy drive donations will be given to the nonprofit, which aims to promote kindness as a guiding principle of humanity by facilitating acts of kindness within communities and raising awareness of kindness through education, sharing and recognition.
Ken Murdoch, a Newtown Kindness board member and Save the Children employee, said the donations received from the Westport police toy drive will be distributed to several Save the Children partners that serve children and families across the Tri-State area.
“The toy drive is all about returning an act of kindness that was given to us in Newtown last year from the tremendous outpouring of support from people around the world,” said Murdoch, who’s the chief information officer at Save the Children.
“We are giving back to those that may do without this Christmas,” Murdoch continued. “While the Bacons and all the other impacted families and victims will be without their loved ones for another major holiday, we are hopeful that our kindness can reach out and rise above this tragedy.”
Officers will be collecting new, unopened and unwrapped toys this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Athletic Shoe Factory parking lot, 1560 Post Road E. In addition to toys, cash donations will be accepted.
The toy drive will continue Saturday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 15. Again, officers will be stationed outside the Athletic Shoe Factory from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Donations can also be dropped off at the Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road, at any time. Donations will be collected at the department until 3 p.m. on Dec. 15.