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Safety officers give toys, supplies to those in need

Washington Police and Fire Services helped bring Christmas cheer to local children and nursing home residents by distributing toys and supplies to them on Thursday.

With assistance from local businesses, organizations and families, the department raised approximately $10,000 to purchase those items.

The department “adopted” 44 local children who were recommended by community partners based on family need. Many of those children and their parents were able to stop by the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center, where emergency personnel greeted them, provided them with refreshments and helped them choose which toys to take home. Behind a wall of plexiglass, Santa Claus waved to the children and took socially distanced photos with them.

Emergency personnel also delivered approximately 200 bags of home living supplies to local nursing homes. Those bags included toiletries, slip-proof socks, personal hygiene products and other supplies.

“We are able to serve those who are less fortunate than we are,” Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford said.

The toy distribution event had a similar format last year, with emergency personnel purchasing toys beforehand and distributing them to families at the Senior Center. In previous installments of the “Shop with a Safety Officer” event, officers accompanied the children on a Walmart shopping spree.

“The only difference is we used to have a big feast,” Drakeford said. “That’s the big one. But COVID hasn’t really affected the way we want to operate.”

The list of donors for Thursday’s event consisted of Washington Noon Rotary, Executive Personnel Group, Bright Futures, First Bank, the Nu Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi, Cornerstone Family Medicine, Red Men’s Lodge, Roberson Cab Company, Zaxby’s of Washington and Greenville, Walmart of Washington, the Black family, the Jones family and City of Washington staff members.