More than 1,500 families in West County are set to benefit from the growing annual Richmond/El Cerrito Fire and Police Holiday Toy Program.
The program started two decades ago when Richmond firefighter Rod Woods parked his vehicle in the area of Cutting Boulevard and Harbour Way in Richmond and began distributing collected toys to local children, prompting a police officer to stop and assist him.
Woods, now a program manager, said at the time toys collected at West County fire stations benefited a holiday drive put on by the U.S. Marines, but were shipped off to aid Concord families. He saw the need to start a toy drive that served local families.
Today, Woods’ toy collection drive is now a nonprofit that has grown exponentially.
Donated toys can be delivered to any fire station in Richmond, El Cerrito and Kensington, Woods said Friday.
Also, those fire stations are accepting donations of food basket items for a Richmond Police Department food basket drive so local families can have a holiday meal.
Additionally, monetary donations to benefit the toy drive can be made online here.
“As professional firefighters, we see the ravages brought on by the loss of both homes and property,” according to the nonprofit. “Our organization strives to brighten the lives of needy children in Richmond, San Pablo and the surrounding communities, particularly during the holidays.”
The program has been so successful over the years that it continues to attract significant sponsors, including Target, the YMCA, Chevron Richmond, Walmart, Big Lots!, BP, Mechanics Bank, Marriott, Kmart, Oakland Packaging & Supply, Stege Sanitary District and RPD.
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