Wareham employees team up to collect toys for kids in need
The spirit of the season was in the air in Wareham on Saturday as community members donated hundreds of toys to drives for Turning Point.
Dressed up in warm layers, Wareham teachers and bus drivers collected toys for their third annual “Stuff-A-Bus” donation drive to benefit Turning Point.
Turning Point, an all-volunteer social service agency, provides assistance to the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in Wareham through a variety of programs. During the holidays, the organization also helps to sponsor gifts for children in need.
“Three years ago, Turning Point did not have enough donations to bring to the families in town, so at the last minute we decided that we would do Stuff-A-Bus,” said Marie Ferreira, a Wareham Middle School paraprofessional. “We had a week to put it together and it was very successful, so we decided that we would continue to do it every single year.”
Throughout the afternoon, residents stopped by with new, unwrapped toys, winter clothes, and non-perishable food items to fill a bus parked at the Wareham Fire Department on Main Street.
Personally knowing the struggles of some students from low-income families, school bus driver Lori Ellis loves seeing children's faces light up when they open wrapped presents. "No matter what age you are," toys bring happiness to kids and adults alike, she said.
“My kids did a stocking for me and my husband last year for Christmas. I am forty-six-years-old and I was so happy when I got it,” said Ellis.
Outside Target and Walmart, the Wareham Police Department and the Department of Natural Resources collected toys for Turning Point.
Acting Chief John Walcek said that this was the tenth year the two departments have held a toy drive, and that they always get a lot of support.
At Target, with several hours left to go, the cruiser was full of toys, stuffed animals, board games, and crafts, and several bikes were lined up alongside it.
“People are very, very generous,” said Acting Chief John Walcek.
“We really appreciate the community as well as the police department for supporting us in our Christmas drive,” said Turning Point volunteer Mary Hanlon. “It takes the support of the whole community to donate the toys and make the program successful.”
Turning Point Program Coordinator Brian Kashner said that the community’s support is vital no matter the season.
“Thanks to the community at large for all the support throughout the year,” Kashner said. “It’s essential.”
Turning Point is still accepting donations for the holidays.
Donations of gift cards, especially those to the movies, for books, pizza, to Amazon or iTunes, or to clothing or grocery stores, are welcomed, along with donations of toys and other gifts.
Food donations for a holiday meal including frozen turkeys, frozen hams, canned vegetables, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and other dry goods are accepted.
Contributions may be dropped off at the Annex Building at 3 Viking Dr., across from Wareham Middle School and next to the Andersson Track, during donation drop-off hours or mailed to: WACH Special Programs, PO Box 486, Wareham, MA 02571. Holiday donations should be dropped off on or before December 18.