Violet Township Fire Department to hold 'touchless drive-thru' toy drive Dec. 5

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group
The Violet Township Fire Department toy drive logo

The Violet Township Fire Department will put a new spin on its annual holiday toy drive by holding a “touchless drive-thru” event Dec. 5.

For more than three decades, VTFD firefighters have teamed with the local community to try to make sure every child and teenager in the community has a gift to unwrap for the holidays.

In that sense, this year is no different.

But like nearly every other aspect of life in 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced the VTFD and those who support the annual toy drive to adjust.

That’s included eliminating the red drop boxes the department typically places at businesses throughout the community to help collect toys, gift certificates and financial donations.

It also has prompted a “touchless drive-thru” event 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at Station 592, 8700 Refugee Road.

“We’ve done the drive-thru event with the help of local Girl Scouts in the past,” said Jim Paxton assistant fire chief. “Now, we just won’t have as many outside helpers, and we’ll have masks on and gloves to keep everybody safe.

“People can pull up and just open their doors or trunks or hatchbacks, and we’ll grab the items from their vehicles.”

Paxton said last year's toy drive assisted approximately 800 families.

When possible, the department also will provide local churches as well as neighboring fire departments and service organizations with excess donations.

But every year, the effort starts with local families, many of whom are reached through a partnership with Pickerington Schools.

“It’s a way for us to give back,” Paxton said. “Often, we’re out in the community and we see various needs.

“It’s near and dear to our hearts and another way for us to give back to our community.”

In addition to collecting items for the drive in each of its school buildings, the district helps identify families in need.

According to Michelle Hurd, school counselor at the Pickerington Alternative School, more than 150 families in the Pickerington Local School District receive assistance through the drive each year.

“I want every family – those kids – to have something to open on Christmas Day,” Hurd said.

Hurd said each school has different activities to support the toy drive.

Because there aren’t nearly as many drop boxes this year, she said, students at the Alternative School not only have donated items but have distributed flyers at shopping centers to help spread the word about the Dec. 5 event and other ways to donate.

“All of the buildings do different things,” Hurd said. “Sometimes, schools do a candy-cane sale to raise money to get gift cards.

“We all sort of chip in to help. In the end, we are helping other students throughout our district.”

Paxton encouraged people to bring new, unopened toys to the Dec. 5 event but said there are other opportunities to support the drive.

Through Dec. 23, drop boxes will be available in the lobbies at Station 592 and Station 591, 21 Lockville Road.

Information about what is and is not accepted at the drive is available at violet.oh.us/departments/public_safety/toy_drive/index.php, as well as the Violet Township Fire Department Toy Drive Facebook page.

Those pages also allow for the donation of money and gift cards.  

“Our anticipation is it’s going to be a year of increased need because a lot of people have had increased hardships,” Paxton said. “It’s the holiday season, which is the season of giving.

“If you have the ability to help, it’s great to help.”

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate