Toy drive distributes 3,500 toys for holidays

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2006

Special to the Advocate

3,500 toys were distributed across the state to deployed military families and disadvantaged children as a result of a toy drive conducted by Governor Riley's Operation Grateful Heart initiative and the Hoover Fire Department.

The toys were collected at the Hoover Fire Department, beginning in early November. New toys ranging from Barbie dolls to bicycles were donated. Toys suitable for children from infancy to teenagers were collected.

&uot;I’ve always believed Alabamians are the most compassionate and caring people, and the continued success of this toy drive is evidence of that,&uot; said Governor Riley.

&uot;With the help of generous citizens and the Hoover Fire Deparment, Operation Grateful Heart is making Christmas a little brighter for so many children across the state.&uot;

Operation Grateful Heart distributed the toys to children who have a parent currently deployed in the military, those whose parents may have returned from service, but are still in need, and to various charitable organizations.

Some of the organizations that have received toys include: The Boys and Girls Club, The Sunshine Center, The Family Guidance Center, Alabama Women of Destiny, and the AL Department of Corrections, who give the toys to causes they support.

Charitable agencies must furnish an estimate of how many children they will be helping along with their ages.

Don Wood, the Executive Director of Operation Grateful Heart, coordinated the drive.

&#8220The toy distribution program has greatly enhanced the lives of Alabama's military families and needy children.

It's just another way that we can show our appreciation to the military for all of their hard work, as well as to bring joy to those children who otherwise would not have any toys on Christmas morning,” said Wood.

This is the third year Operation Grateful Heart has conducted the toy drive.

Over the years, more than 6,000 toys have been distributed to needy children.

Governor Riley created Operation Grateful Heart in 2004, as Alabama's program to ensure that all military personnel and their families receive appropriate recognition, tangible support, and neighborly care.