Collecting toys for needy families in the Sumner School District has been a tradition for Sumner police officers and staff members for the last 15 years.
Toy drive organizers are seeing a decrease in donations so far this year, but are determined to ensure no child in the community goes without Christmas presents this year.
“Donations are down a little this year,” Sumner Police Chief Brad Moericke said last week. “There’s always competition with other toy drives. Last year, we bought $4,000 in toys. This year, we’re only at $1,300 in donations.”
Last year, that $4,000 bought 500 local children toys and served 200 families at the Sumner Family Center.
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Throughout Sumner, boxes inscribed with “Sumner Toy Box,” are waiting to be filled with new, unwrapped toys. Boxes can be found at Branks BBQ, Heritage Bank and Columbia Bank. In addition to the toy collection boxes, cash and check donations are also accepted, allowing officers to personally shop for specific toys children are asking for.
“It really does benefit a lot of kids,” said records clerk Sherrie Duggan, who heads the toy drive. “We do the connection, but it’s a collaborative effort. There’s so many kids in our community that would go without Christmas presents if it wasn’t for the toy drive.”
For the officers who volunteer their time with the drive, it’s like helping out their own family.
“We think of our community as our family,” said officer Marc McDonald. “We’re more than willing to help.”
On Dec. 18, families will come to the family center to pick up their presents from Sumner PD staff and Sumner School District officials. Emanuel Food Pantry will also be there to provide a full meal bag with everything needed to make a full Christmas dinner.
“It’s a positive way for our officers to interact with the community, outside of their normal roles,” Moericke said.
For Duggan, who works tireless to ensure no child wakes up without a present on Christmas morning, seeing the families come in to pick up their presents makes it all worth it.
“We get to see the families who are getting toys,” she said. “It’s so amazing to see the expressions on the families’ faces. They’re usually so overcome with joy.”
Contact Sumner police officer Loren Houselog or Sherrie Duggan at 253-299-5662.