West Deer police launching annual Christmas toy drive
When a West Deer couple heard about a neighbor’s financial needs during the Christmas season more than 20 years ago, they donated $500 to a police gift program, police Chief Jon Lape said.
That program, and the family’s annual gift, have become a tradition in West Deer, Lape said.
Toys and financial contributions are being received now for the West Deer Toys for Christmas Christmas Fund.
Lape, was a patrolman 23 years ago when he, a patrol sergeant and the chief at the time came up with the idea to brighten the season for township residents experiencing hard times.
The West Deer Toys for Christmas Fund is for children living in Deer Lakes School District who are between 1 and 14 years old, Lape said.
Police receive recommendations on who to help from teachers and others, police administrative assistant Jennifer Borczyk said. Letters went out last week seeking eligible people and funding. The chief said the program usually helps about 60 children each Christmas.
Lape said he stretches the money as much as possible by buying clothing and toys on the day after Thanksgiving.
“We can get 70% off at JCPenney,” he said.
Lape said the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are helping out again.
On Saturday, Scouts will drop off bags at West Deer residences soliciting for toys. The bags will be collected on Nov. 30.
The program asks that all toys be new.
In addition, toys may be dropped off at the police department, 109 East Union Road.
Collection hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The drop-off deadline is Dec. 10.
Other Alle-Kiski Valley programs
• Many police departments, including New Kensington, Arnold and Lower Burrell in the Alle-Kiski Valley, participate in “Shop With a Cop,” which is organized by state Trooper Steve Limani out of the Greensburg station. It’s in its the 11th year. The program covers all of Westmoreland County.
”We will spend about $50,000 on 300 or so children,” Limani said. Police will take groups of kids to shop at six Walmarts in three days.
• Harmar police and Target are partnering for the third year for a clothing and toy purchase. It will be held on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Target store in Harmar. About 80 Acmetomia students from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade will be accompanied by police.
The youngsters will be given $100 to spend on themselves or family members.
“We get an overwhelming response,” police Chief Jason Domaratz said. The money comes from a Target store community fund.
• Indiana Township police are collecting shaving cream and razors for veterans at the Veterans Administration hospital near Aspinwall. Last year, police also contributed about 1,000 toys for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Christmas program.
• Aspinwall and other departments are preparing for the Children’s Hospital collection and will also give toys to youngsters at the Children’s Institute and Sunrise School, Chief David Nemec said.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .