📷  L-R: Chief Shane Woodson, Gary Tremblay, Jim Keyes, Deputy Chief Jose Dingui. The SPD, Southbridge Lions Club & Southbridge Credit Union have organized a holiday toy drive.
By Sarah Champagne, Managing Editor

SOUTHBRIDGE – With 12 days left until Christmas, there is still time to either donate toys to the Southbridge Police Department’s toy drive, to register for help with the holidays through the program or to nominate a family in need. However, time is running out to register for the toy distribution program or to nominate a child in need.

The program accepts donations of toys until Friday, Dec. 21. However, the deadline to refer a family to the program or to apply for assistance is tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 14. To refer a family or a child to the program, you can contact the Southbridge Police Department by phone or in person. (Click here for Southbridge Police Department contact information)

The Southbridge Police Department toy drive takes over this year from Toys for Tots, which has organized the effort to get toys for Christmas to children in need in previous years. Although The U.S. Marine’s Toys for Tots is still a thriving program throughout the United States, there would have been some compromise this year, with a reduced effort within Southbridge and distribution based in Worcester.

As a result, the police department, Southbridge Credit Union and the Southbridge Lions Club came together to make sure that holiday giving of toys stayed vital at the local level, hoping that once again there would be plenty of toys to distribute to children in Southbridge and nearby communities.

“It’s very important to us, because it’s all local kids who will receive these toys,” says Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson. “We wanted to keep it local because we know we have plenty of need here.”

Southbridge Credit Union and The Southbridge Lions Club have sponsored the toy drive and both groups have lent considerable support to the effort. Southbridge Credit Union asked to help out with the program, rather than being approached by Southbridge Police. The credit union sponsored a recent “shopping spree” for toys at Walmart in Sturbridge. The Southbridge Lions mascot and officers from both the Southbridge and Sturbridge police departments visited Walmart to conduct the “shopping spree” for toys. The excitement of seeing the mascot and officers from both police departments shopping for kids in need also inspired other people to give that day.

“The Sturbridge Police Department has been a great partner to us as well in this effort,” Woodson says.

The Southbridge Lions Club provides significant help to the program with donations and by providing the volunteers to coordinate the effort. Lions Club members pick up toys at drop-off locations on a regular basis and then organize and sort donations at a warehouse in the old high school building on Cole Avenue for distribution. They will also help to distibute the toys to families that were either nominated or signed up for the program.

You can donate a toy at any of the following locations until Friday, Dec. 21:

STURBRIDGE:

Sturbridge Police Department

Southbridge Credit Union – all locations

Micknuck’s Marketplace

Cedar Street Grille

Cedar Street Café

Avelino

The Duck

SOUTHBRIDGE:

Southbridge Police headquarters

Southbridge Fire headquarters

Southbridge Credit Union – all branches

Southridge Town Hall

Jacob Edwards Library

Big Bunny Market

Harrington Hospital

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