A yearly holiday toy drive headed by the Violet Township Fire Department last week concluded after collecting approximately 3,000 toys for children throughout Fairfield County.

A yearly holiday toy drive headed by the Violet Township Fire Department last week concluded after collecting approximately 3,000 toys for children throughout Fairfield County.

For the past 20 years, Violet Township firefighters have teamed with local schools, businesses, churches and aid organizations to ensure children who wouldn't otherwise receive gifts at the holidays have toys or games to unwrap.

This year, firefighters launched the countywide drive on Nov. 22.

Last Tuesday, the drive ended with donations totaling a value of approximately $10,000. The bulk came from students and staff at Harmon Road Middle School of the Pickerington Local School District, which this year held a series of events generating $8,152.

"Harmon Road Middle School has been helping us about five years now, and over the last five years they've helped raised about $30,000," said Violet Township Fire Lt. Gregg Goodwin. "The students and staff there have been tremendous."

Goodwin said the money raised at Harmon was used to purchase 21 bicycles, two televisions, 13 Nintendo game systems and 11 games, seven DVD players, two digital cameras, six iPod Shuffles, four iHomes and 16 movies.

The funds also helped buy more than $1,600 in gift cards.

"This year, the need was so great within the Pickerington Local School District that, I'd say, about 98 percent of what was raised (at Harmon) stayed in the Pickerington school system."

Goodwin noted some businesses and organizations also held special charity events to aid the drive. They included Hector Gutierrez Salon, where stylists donated time to provide free hair cuts to anyone who donated a toy to the drive, and Pizzeria Uno, where children who contributed to the drive were presented the chance to make their own pizzas with Santa Claus.

Additionally, businesses in Olde Pickerington teamed to provide free carriage rides throughout the village in exchange for donations during the December Shoppe Hop.

"This year, we had about 20 businesses we used as collection points," Goodwin said. "We continue to have incredible community support for this toy drive."

Recipients of the donations are identified by officials at Pickerington Local School District and aid organizations throughout Fairfield County, including Mayfield Mission in Lancaster.

"Every year we add a little bit more to it," Goodwin said. "We try to help as many people in Fairfield County as we can through various organizations.

"We know it's going to the people who really need it, and it's been a really successful deal over the last few years.

"We just want to thank everyone who supported us this year. It's been a great year and we hope to have many more."

nellis@thisweeknews.com