The Arlington County Police Department Community Engagement tent has become a familiar site around Arlington. Their drive to collect essentials for needy families was barely finished when they launched the ninth Annual Fill the Cruiser Holiday Toy Drive.
The Toy Drive to benefit children in need began Nov. 18 at Westover Baptist Church and at Lee Harrison Shopping Center and will end on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and Walter Reed Community Center from 3-5 p.m.
Sgt. Dorian Brooks says people have been donating for all ages. “We’ve collected everything from basketballs, educational toys, books, to Barbies and puzzles.”
Officer Hillary Hicken is roaming around the parking lot greeting people and collecting large plastic bags brimming with toys. Hicken has put together the holiday drive but says she hasn’t had much time since she finished with the essentials drive a few weeks ago.
Stephanie Claure, graduate of the summer week-long ACPD police academy for teens, has joined the police officers collecting toys and loading boxes. Claure says she wants to go into forensic science, and the police academy had a session during the police academy on forensics. “We did a lot. We took a couple of field trips including rock climbing. It taught us the values a police officer needs such as resilience and teamwork.” She says they also went to the law enforcement museum in D.C. where they learned the history of the various law enforcement agencies.
A couple strolling by sees the flashing police car lights in the library parking lot and stops to tell the police working the event, “We’re so grateful we have the police. Every time we see you, we donate to your events.” She puts her hands together and with a small bow, continues walking across the lot.
Donations of new, unwrapped toys may also be left at one of the drop box locations at Lost Dog Cafe, Cathedral of St. Thomas More, Arlington Courthouse, Ireland’s Four Courts, Celtic House Irish Pub, Shirlington Library, Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center, and Freddie’s Beach Bar until Dec. 7. The ACPD will distribute the donated toys throughout the community to needy children during the month of December.