Johnston Police hoping to fill plenty of boxes during toy drive

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"We’re hoping to have this box – and many, many others – [that] will be overflowing with new toys,” Johnston Police Maj. Thomas H. Dolan said as he stood outside police headquarters on Atwood Avenue on Monday. “I’m really hoping we collect a record numbers of toys this year.”

Dolan, who is the department’s investigative division commander, was speaking about the Johnston Police Explorers Post 405 annual Toys for Kids Drive that is currently underway in hopes of making Christmas merry for children of needy families just as the unique program has done for upwards of the last 25 years.

“We’re asking people to donate one new toy – or several new toys if they wish – that will be distributed confidentially to children in needy families that live in Johnston,” said Dolan, who also heads the award-winning Explorer Post program. “Every member of the Johnston Police Explorers is excited and looking forward to the annual gift wrapping party.”

Dolan announced that that annual event, which transforms the Johnston Senior Center into an extraordinary version of Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole, will be held on Thursday, Dec. 12, beginning at 6 p.m. and feature Explorers, their proud parents and member of Johnston’s Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scout troops all lending a hand in wrapping gifts for children from needy families.

Until then, Dolan hopes that the large cardboard boxes will fill up quickly and need to be replaced during the annual initiative that is also in partnership with Mayor Joseph Polisena and Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini.

The drive, which has enjoyed tremendous success in past years, will conclude on Tuesday, Dec. 10, when members of Explorers Post 405 and even Johnston Police officers will take the toys to the Johnston Senior Center for the annual wrapping party.

As Dolan – who is being assisted by Lt. Steve Guilmette, assistant coordinator of the Explorers – emphasized: “All toys go directly to children of Johnston families in need and every toy distribution is strictly confidential. The ability for a parent to see a smile on their child’s face on Christmas morning when opening their present can hopefully help them put aside the stresses they may be under from life’s twists and turns they face, even if it’s just for a day.”

The Christmas Collection of Toys has been a part of unique community service that has been performed by the Johnston Police Explorers since the mid-1990s. Since then, and to this day, the program remains a great benefit and comfort for those members of the Johnston community in need during the holiday season.

“I personally want to thank all our residents, in advance, for helping spread holiday cheer to Johnston families through this great example of giving,” Polisena said while urging people to make a donation of at least one new toy to this year’s drive. “Your generosity is very much appreciated.”

Tamburini echoed the mayor’s sentiments, adding that those interested can contact Terry Best at 743-4544. The department did note that stuffed animals are not accepted.

The chief also announced that collection boxes are located at all public schools in Johnston as well as police headquarters and Stop & Shop supermarket, which is located at 11 Commerce Way off Atwood Avenue in Johnston. People who would like further information or to make special donations should call Dolan or Guilmette at 231-4210.

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