BOWIE – With the holiday season underway, the city’s police department is working with Toys for Tots to spread the Christmas joy to needy children by accepting toy donations. Sgt. Bennie Henderson said the police began partnering with Toys for Tots in 2009. The purpose, he said, is to collect toys from city residents and […]
BOWIE – With the holiday season underway, the city’s police department is working with Toys for Tots to spread the Christmas joy to needy children by accepting toy donations.
Sgt. Bennie Henderson said the police began partnering with Toys for Tots in 2009. The purpose, he said, is to collect toys from city residents and distribute them to other children in the city who are in need.
Since the police began partnering with Toys for Tots, Henderson said the police have experienced “overwhelming support” from Bowie residents. The best part, he said, is seeing the looks on the faces of families when they receive the gifts. He specifically remembers one young boy who received toys several years ago.
“The little boy was like ‘Are these going with me? This is all mine?’ So just seeing his face light up and his reaction and looking at my son helping the little boy out [was rewarding],” Henderson said. “We get home and my son’s downstairs packing all his toys that he is going to giveaway and to keep. The pile to giveaway was more and I said, ‘Maybe you want to keep a little but more.’ But that just goes to show you, it affects kids on either side.”
To participate in the program, Henderson said families in need can register on the Toys for Tots website, where parents may request specific items for their children.
Mark Melvin, manager for Melvin Motors , an auto repair shop located in Bowie, has participated in Toys for Tots for seven years, helping collect items to give away. Despite this year being slow in toy donations, Melvin has high hopes the numbers will go up as Christmas approaches.
“It just really made you feel good as the people came in quietly without a lot of fanfare and dropped off something that filled up a (donation) box about halfway and then just left,” Melvin said of prior experiences. “We certainly would love to see anybody come through to help somebody this Christmas season.”
The toy collection period began in the first week of November and will end on December 18.
The Prince George’s County police will also be manning a toy collection truck, Henderson said, which will stop in several locations throughout the county, including Bowie. The city police will help load the truck, which takes the toys to the county police headquarters in Palmer Park to distribute the toys.
Lt. Ernest Stanley of the Bowie police, who assists Henderson, said the program shows citizens another side of police officers.
“It just makes us feel very good as a police department to give back to our community not only in a law enforcement capacity but in a way that fosters great relationships with children and also lets people in the community know that we’re not just guys with badges driving police cars,” Stanley said. “We’re members of the community, and we have a heart.”