Police Cruiser on Play-Doh Duty

While it may be hard to believe the holidays are just around the corner, some police officers in Avon kicked the season off Saturday morning with a project to make the holidays a happy one for some sick children.

Usually flashing lights on a police cruiser is intended to get people's attention and get them out of the way.  Saturday morning, the lights were used to get people's attention to donate toys.  It may have looked like a traffic stop at the Walmart on Route 44 in Avon, but it was a really a toy drive.

"We're looking to fill the cruiser so that we can bring the toys to Connecticut Children's Hospital," said Sgt. Kelly Priest of the Avon Police Department.

When the day started, the car was empty.  But then, one by one, and even by bags full, toys started to arrive as the donations piled up.

"Well, I just saw this when I went in (the store) and it's just such a great cause," explained Ellen D'Onofrio of Winsted, as she added to the car load.

Rick Zeiser, of Farmington also contributed.  "It makes us feel good, especially with tough times," Zeiser said.
He added that in this economy, some kids wouldn't be getting presents and this was a way of bridging the gap.

"It's nice to help out," Zeiser told a reporter.

After a while, the car began to fill up with some serious loot - toys that would make a child smile. 

Play-doh - Chutes And Ladders - more Chutes And Ladders - and baby dolls.  The higher the pile of toys, the broader the smiles on the police officers and residents gathered in the parking lot.

The Avon Police Department is expected to drop off the donated toys to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center on December 10th.  This is the 8th year for the Avon toy drive.

"Oh, we get hugs, we get smiles. It's a pretty awesome day," said Sgt. Priest about delivery day at the hospital.

Some of the people helping out had a personal connection with the hospital.

"My son's been a patient at Children's Medical twice, and they're an amazing facility," Tracy Clarke of Simsbury said.  He added that he feels the hospital has done wonders for his son and many other children.

There was a display of kids helping kids too.  "I always have stuff, so I think that everyone else should,"  said Mike Zeiser of Farmington.

"It is going to be a tough season, and we want kids to be happy," added Jen Witt of Simsbury.

Police officers on the scene Saturday morning said they plan to have another 'stuff-a-cruiser' toy drive at the same Walmart shopping plaza on the day after Thanksgiving.

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