Cape fire, police collect thousands of toys
Children throughout Cape Coral are smiling this Christmas because of the generosity of the community this season.
Cape Coral Fire Department personnel spent the last four days delivering more than 1,500 toys to hundreds of children and families in need throughout the city.
“That’s double the amount of toys we got last year,” said Fire Chief Donald Cochran. “I just want the community to know how much we appreciate their donations, and to double last year is fantastic. I want to extend a big thank you to the community for this. It’s what living in Cape Coral is all about.”
Every fire station in the city collected the toys and participated in delivering the joy.
“The firemen enjoy delivering the toys so much because they see and deal with disaster and people in need every day on the job,” said Cochran. “It’s an opportunity for them to take a break from that and make a child smile and help families out. I know I loved doing it for many years as a firefighter myself. When we drive up in the fire trucks and see the looks on those kids’ faces, it’s fantastic.”
Cape Coral Police officials also were overwhelmed with the community’s response last weekend for the department’s annual Fill the Boat toy drive.
Rainy weather dampened the donations on the first day, but better weather the next two days more than made up for the slow start. A really good day for donations on Saturday was followed by more than double that on Sunday.
“We thought it was going to be a light year,” said department spokesperson Sgt. Dana Coston. “That cold front went through and it was rainy, but then it cleared and people really came out in droves.”
Coston did not have a final tally on the number of toys collected, but said it took a full day for officers and volunteers to sort, organize, pack, wrap and deliver them to area families and a few charitable organizations.
Several Dollar General stores in the area also agreed to set up collection bins in stores for toys to add to the Fill the Boat drive.
“The community has overwhelmed us and our Patrol office, with its generosity,” said Coston. “The caring that people showed us and the outpouring of support to make Fill the Boat a success was truly humbling.”
Police Department personnel and volunteers delivered the toys by Wednesday bringing a bit of holiday cheer to the many families in need.
The boat was located at the Walmart store on Del Prado Boulevard where people out shopping were exposed to a visual reminder. Many bought extra toys and dropped them off on the way out of the store. Cash donations also were received which officers looked at what had been donated and then went inside to purchase age appropriate gifts to spread the joy over all age groups.
Families were identified for the program in various ways, such as families officers had come in contact with during the year and know their situation, social workers, by citizens, schools and counselors.
“Some had signed up for the Shop with a Cop event and were turned down,” said Coston. “We don’t like to leave anyone out especially when we know they will benefit.”