Children do not often see law enforcement officers driving around their neighborhoods with bags full of toys, but every holiday season some get that chance.
Just days before Christmas, Deputy Tom Drake and other deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station personally delivered hundreds of toys to kids across the valley.
“About two or three days before Christmas, myself and other deputies drive around and if we see kids walking around we will stop the car and deliver the toys one by one,” said Drake. “I honk the siren and one or two kids come out. Within a minute or so I have about 15 kids surrounding me.”
The sheriff’s deputy said he drove to communities like Canyon Country and Newhall as well as public areas where he thought kids would most likely hang around.
At least 400 toys, ranging from dolls to electronics and arts and crafts, were handed out.
“On Christmas Eve, I was handing out toys and a little girl, about 4 years old, pointed to a toy doll and her eyes just lit up,” said Drake about one of the most memorable moments of this year’s toy giveaway.
Much like other annual toy drives, like the California Highway Patrol’s CHiPs for Kids or the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Station holds its own.
Toys are collected about three weeks before the holiday season thanks to donations by community members, schools and businesses. Donations are then distributed to families and organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club across the county, including in the SCV.
Every year, “there’s still a handful of extra toys — about nine large bags full of toys — from the annual drive. So, we go around the community and hand them out,” said Drake.
The deputy added that, while they get thousands of toys every year, they are always short of dolls and sports-related items.
“I always get a lot of ‘thank yous’ from parents and it’s such a positive thing to be able to match a toy with a child,” said Drake. “This event brings tremendous joy and we couldn’t do it without the unbelievable support our community members give.”