East Palo Alto police desperate for toy donations | News | Palo Alto Online |


East Palo Alto police desperate for toy donations

Officers make a public call for donations to fulfill families' and children's needs

On the morning of Dec. 24 East Palo Alto police officers and staff plan to distribute toys to needy families and their children in the community.

But just five days before Christmas, the department is making a public appeal for toys. The police toy drive is in desperate need of donations, officials said.

To help, the public can contribute new or unwrapped toys or make a monetary donation. Donations can be dropped off at the East Palo Alto Police Department, 141 Demeter St., until Dec. 23. Donation checks can be made to "The East Palo Alto PD POA."

More information is available by contacting Vickie Porter at 650-853-3163.

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Posted by helpmehelpyou
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm

May I suggest that you give a convenient location for toy drop? For example, the mall. Or someplace on the El Camino corridor. Many well-meaning folk will not take the time to look up where the EPA police department is, let alone drive over. Just sayin.

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Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Is that "new or unwrapped" or "new and unwrapped"? The article says the former, but the usual request is the latter.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I admit to having donor fatigue right now & am feeling a little Grinchy. I give money to food banks instead of toys. I know it makes kids happy and all of that, & we have a lousy economy right now. But I also wonder about, um, well, family planning & then I start getting judgemental. I'm surrounded by low income people w/lots of kids- maybe I'm overexposed? Maybe that shouldn't be a consideration during the holidays & the Grinchitude is too pronounced in me this year. Between the community work I do every day, donations to disaster relief & donations to local food banks, I'm done for the moment! Does anyone else feel this way?

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Posted by helpmehelpyou
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm

@Hmmm, I can totally relate to your issue with the family planning. And I also have donor fatigue. Still, I would be happy to transcend my inner Grinchitude for local kids (they didn't ask to be here), provided that I don't have to drive into EPA to do it.

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Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm

It takes five minutes to drive to the EPA police dept. It is a mile from this hallowed ground. It's not a child's fault he or she is on this earth, or that we make Christmas such a gift extravaganza that not getting a gift feels like not being loved. Lighten up "Inner Grinches." It's not about you.

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Posted by Wish to donate
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Agree with poster, "helpmehelpyou". We keep reading about all the killings. No one wants to get caught in the crossfire. I will, however, go to the Home Depot mall. If they have baskets inside the doors of Nordstrom Rack, Sports Authority, or Home Depot, people might me more willing to drop off toys because they know the location.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Wish to donate & helpmehelpyou, I agree w/you re the safety issue. At the city council meeting last night, several people made public comments re the recent spate of violence. Also, it getting dark so early doesn't help. I had one of my dogs in the car while I was at the meeting last night, then worried he'd get stolen. Honestly, most people are safe driving around EPA unless they're thugs, but I'm not knocking your concern. I truly wish we had donation stations in various parts of EPA, like there are for canned goods in public buildings in other towns. I almost mentioned this to the chief last night, but he was busy.

You can call dispatch at: 650-321-1112 & see if a cop can meet you at Home Depot to pick it up - it's worth the phone call.

Mac - yeah, I know it's not the kids' fault at all. But you know, it is about me, insofar as I'm a potential donor. Some years I have the bandwidth to do more, some years I don't. But I'd love to hear what you do in the community that feeds your soul & helps others - it's always useful to know what others are up to.

Mac - it also takes more than 5 minutes to drive there, espec w/current traffic patterns. It can take 20 min plus anytime after 3pm, on Univ or Pulgas, to get there.

Idea: If anyone here wants to hand off the toys to me, I can ask ahead if an officer would come pick up from my place on the west side. You can email me: Iamhmmm (at) yahoo dot com.

Another future idea: If people know about this sooner, they can order toys online to be shipped straight to the police dept.

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Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm

I'm sorry, Hmmm, I shouldn't be judgmental. When I read the plea for help I bought a few toys and took them over there. My youngest sons are in college now, so I don't get to buy basketballs and stuffed animals anymore. It was nice. I wasn't thinking about safety. Maybe I should be more sensitive to that. We live in such a wonderful community that I probably take too much for granted. I'm sure that, especially at this time of year, most help in their own ways as much as they can. I'm equally sure that I don't do as much, now or ever, as I should. Sorry for my self-indulgent swipe. Happy holidays.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Mac - no worries. That's the problem w/donor fatigue - you don't want to mention it to avoid being judged.

I realize that what's especially irking me about this is that given the economy, the police should've predicted slow donations & started earlier. But in true EPA fashion, it's fly by the seat of your pants instead of plan. All kids are deserving of a happy holiday season.

Kudos to you for your generosity & I'm glad it felt good, too. The safety issue is real, although the majority of the time people are safe in their cars. There are also many friendly people in EPA who are helpful & friendly. But during spates of violence it pays to be careful & the police don't help their toy campaign by making everyone drop off over there. How can a non-resident know if it's safe or not?

I'm glad that you're able to take safety for granted - we all do that a lot of the time. I think you're right - people taking care of their own is big this time of the year & some just don't have much left to give. I also give all year long, every day w/my volunteer work so sometimes I take the end of the year off & actually do less.

Wishing you & yours continues safety & very Happy Holidays.

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Posted by Wish to donate
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:01 am

Hmmm: I wouldn't want to call police dispatch to pick up a toy - they have bigger fish to fry, so to speak.

I did call Vicky Porter and mention my suggestion about drop boxes in the stores and she said she will tell the committee.

Mac: re your statement, "we make Christmas such a gift extravaganza that not getting a gift feels like not being loved." I agree with you. Parents should realize that it is much more important to love, respect and spend time with their children than to give them gifts in an attempt to buy their love. The holidays have gotten out of control; I can't stand seeing people this time of year shopping with desperate, bleary-eyes because of this ridiculous tradition. Parents who use Santa as an excuse to control the behavior of their children ought to improve their parenting instead.

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Posted by Agnostic
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:03 am

@Sharon —

Gee, thanks. You take an appeal for donations for kids from a non-religious organization and turn it into a screed against atheism — and one individual in particular. Not a mention of the specific charitable effort the article is about. Are only Christians supposed to give, and/or to get kudos for it?

I'm not Christian, and yet I've donated to toy drives almost every year recently. I'll get over to EPA with toys if I have the time.

(BTW, his smoking is probably what did Christopher Hitchens in rather than his drinking.)

Like this comment
Posted by TrudyDo
a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Just to see what it was like, I wandered into Nieman Marcus yesterday afternoon, where I saw white people and Asians paying almost a thousand dollars for a PURSE--and then today, this plea for donations. What is wrong with the world???!!

Like this comment
Posted by Wish to donate
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm

@TrudyDo: America is a capitalist country, not Communist. You have no idea whether or not these people donate their money, but I'm guessing they do donate. The beauty of America is the opportunities available for people to improve their lives if they work hard. Unfortunately, there is too much enabling, pride, and laziness amongst many Americans.

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Posted by Just trying to help a little
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm

For those of you, like myself, who feel like you just don't find the time time to donate and volunteer enough during the year, I urge you to consider donating an item or two to this worthy cause. I just returned from dropping off the gifts at the EPA station. They were extremely grateful and helped my three kids who were in tow appreciate what it will be like to receive more than one gift under the tree this year.

*Gifts should be UNWRAPPED
*All gifts stay in EPA
*Not difficult to find -- not too far off of University.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Trudy - sometimes the contrast is pretty crazy, isn't it- & really, in places just a few physical miles apart!?

I remember once before I moved to EPA being home during college holiday break, volunteering in EPA for Ecumenical Hunger community day, then going to a family member's show your home for the holidays extravaganza - I think maybe as a sponsored benefit by Neiman Marcus. The difference between the two events was of course staggering. Ditto when I was a volunteer advocate for a crisis agency, dealt w/a young crime victim in EPA, then went to a baby shower where one of the gifts was a mink teddy bear. That was a crazy context shift for me at a young age!

One thing I've noticed - the wealthy & the low income folks both have generous & skinflint types amongst their own. You never know if that 1k purse user also donated time or money, or if that lower income person never lifts a finger to help others. It's a wide & wild range of people in this area.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Here's a quote from East Palo Alto's Chief of Police:

Bay Area residents respond generously to police department plea for donations.

Three days ago the annual East Palo Alto Police Toy Drive was facing the harsh possibility of not recieving enough donations to provide toys to the approximate 1500 to 2000 families who usually benefit from this program.

However, several media and news outlets aired our plea for donations and scores of residents throughout the Bay Area responded in a manner truly reflective of Christmas. We now have enough toys to serve over 2000 under-privileged families in East Palo Alto.

On behalf of the police department and the City of East Palo Alto, I offer our thanks and gratitude for so many who gave so much.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

The toy drive takes place tomorrow starting at 8:00 am at East Palo Alto City Hall, 2415 University Avenue.

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