The little boy had one thing on his Christmas wishlist — a Bible. “He didn’t ask for anything else,” says Tammy Posey, one of the coordinators for the Ardmore Police Department’s annual Christmas toy drive.
Another child wanted socks and underwear. “They didn’t ask for anything specific other than things they really needed,” Posey says. “It really tugs at your heart.”
Those requests motivate the police department personnel as well as businesses and individuals in the community to provide a little extra help for the children who need it at Christmas. “We have the support of the community, and that helps so much,” Posey says.
The police department has sponsored the toy drive for several years, but this is the third year that Posey, the wife of Ardmore Police Lt. David Posey, and Brittney Mills, a dispatcher for the department, have worked together to coordinate the drive.
Posey and Mills have assistance and support from Police Chief Jimmy Kennedy and other officers from the department. Several businesses also support the drive, giving monetary donations and items to help the department get gifts to as many kids as possible.
A growing need
The program provided Christmas presents for about 55 children in 2018. “We had a lot more applications last year than we’ve ever had before,” Mills says. This year’s applications, which go to the local schools and also can be picked up at the police department, became available Oct. 1 and are due by Nov. 23. Applicants must be a resident of Limestone, Giles or Lincoln counties.
Only new items can be donated, and no stuffed toys of any kind will be accepted, for sanitary reasons. In the past, used clothes and toys sometimes showed up among the donations. “We appreciate the thoughtfulness behind donating used items, but we want the children that we’re providing for to have new things,” Mills says. “On Christmas morning, we want them to be excited to see something new under the tree.”
Applicants need to provide a wishlist, clothing and shoe sizes, and other information that helps determine the best gifts for specific children. “We want that child to get at least one thing they really want,” Mills says.
That’s why monetary donations help tremendously. Many items such as bicycles, toys and clothing are collected, but cash gifts help fill in the gaps to provide certain requested items. When the children have something specific on their wishlist, the coordinators try to provide it, along with a variety of other things. “Last year we were able to purchase a specific piece of jewelry a teenager asked for,” Posey says.
Ardmore Telephone Company participated in the toy drive last year and plans to do so this year. New, unwrapped toys can go to ATC’s office on Ardmore Avenue. ATC pledges to donate $300 cash to the toy drive if at least 10 items are brought to the office during the drop-off period between Nov. 25 and Dec. 13.
“Here at Ardmore Telephone Company, we’re committed to supporting our community and making a difference in the lives of those we serve,” says Karen Jackson-Furman, chief operating officer at ATC. “Supporting our police department’s toy drive is one way we can help do that.”
Parents pick up the gifts in mid-December, and the organizers never see the children’s faces. Sometimes, though, a parent will later tell about their child’s excitement on Christmas morning.
“It’s nice to hear about the kids since we don’t get to see them,” Posey says. “But that’s not why we do it. We do it for the kids, so they will have a nice Christmas and the parents can provide gifts they might not otherwise be able to afford.”