Annual Toy Drive
We concluded 2016 with another successful Teddy Bear and Toy Drive with many thanks to the UCI community who generously donated to our department. In fact, this year saw the largest collection to date which is a large testament to the positive impacts we have made in the community over the past few years. Spearheaded by Melanie, Cedric, and Alisa, this year’s drive utilized the network of each person to help advertise our cause and through their cumulative efforts, the School of Social Ecology, Applied Innovation, Office of Information Technology, and ACC Housing Communities, were all part of the many groups who lent us a helping hand to collect toys and teddy bears for children at UC Irvine Health. It seemed no expenses were spared this year as we received a plethora of toys ranging from Barbie dolls to remote controlled drones!
Courtesy of UCI Transportation, a large portion of the gifts were brought to the medical center on the morning of Tuesday, December 13. Officers, CSOs, administrative staff, UCI athletes, and Peter the Anteater were greeted at the Douglas Hospital main lobby by Joe Brothman, the Director of Security, where he thanked us for coming. After taking the traditional group photo on the stairwell, classic little red Radio Flyer wagons were wheeled out to serve as delivery vehicles as we made our way around the hospital which was led by Charity Vasquez, the Child Life Manager. The team made their way to children’s bedsides to gift them either a toy or teddy bear. Given the large festive group parading through the hallways, the children, hospital staff, and parents were overjoyed with our surprise visit and many of them used the chance to take photos with our police officers and Peter the Anteater. To witness the challenges and hardships these children faced every day, the trip served as a humbling experience for everyone. It made our cause more special knowing that we can enhance the holiday joy during this season for children who aren’t able to spend it at home. However, the day didn’t end at the medical center as Officer Gomex and CSO Heather Simms, travelled to the Heritage House in Costa Mesa to deliver more toys and teddy bears. Because the women there have not had many positive interactions with law enforcement, they showed a little trepidation as the police car pulled into the complex. However, with his big smile and infectious humor, Officer Gomex instantly put everyone at ease and the women quickly surrounded the patrol car to select a gift for their child. Regardless of their past interactions with law enforcement, this visit was a fantastic opportunity to create a positive bridge between these individuals and police officers. In looking ahead, we are excited to see what’s in store for our toy drive in 2017!