People always say, “the holidays are about giving more than receiving,” and the local police department abides by that rule with their annual Nichols Toy Drive.
Local residents who’ve been inside the Jacksonville Police Department over the past several weeks have noticed a big Christmas tree with a large bucket full of stuffed animals and various other toys. And for those wondering where those toys might be going, the answer is: back to the community…specifically, the community’s less fortunate youth.
Records Administrator for the Jacksonville Police Department Amanda Lahey explains how the toy drive got started and what its purpose is.
“The official name is the Nichols Foundation of Nichols Toy Drive. A gentleman, Sammy Nichols started the foundation when he passed away, and wanted it specifically utilized to buy toys and toothbrushes and tooth paste, gloves and hats…necessities that children that are less fortunate made need and may not have access to any other way,” Lahey says.
As for how the police department decides exactly who gets some of the toys, Lahey explains how that process works.
“I obtain names through the school district. I send a letter to each school in District 117 in October and then the teachers send me back a list of kids they see throughout the school year whom they think might need a little extra pick-me-up around this time of year,” explains Lahey.
Lahey says the annual Christmas toy drive is a great way to strengthen the relationship between local officers and city residents.
“Absolutely, Lt. (Chris) Johnson was on duty (Thursday) and he was able to actually hand some of the toys out to the kids that were getting out of school early. He was able to give them a big hug and build that rapport there with those young ones. Yes, it’s definitely something that’s good for us too, for them to see us in a different light that they may not see us in sometimes,” Lahey says.
To find out more about the Nichols Toy Drive, or give holiday wishes to local officers, contact the police department at 217-479-4630.