Bus gets stuffed with toys to brighten Christmas morning

Dec 18, 2021

Much like Santa’s sleigh, the bus parked outside Target Saturday, Dec. 18 was filled with toys to brighten children’s Christmas mornings.

This bus was filled not by the creations of elves but by the generosity of area residents who contributed to the 18th Safe Zones Fill The Bus toy drive supported by the Dartmouth Police Department.

Barely into the second hour of the day-long event, organizers were well on their way to filling at least three buses supplied by Tremblay Bus Company with toys for children in need, said Dartmouth Police Det. Kyle Costa.

Contributions came “out in full force’’ as soon as the bus arrived at 9 a.m., Costa said. 

“It’s the best feeling in the world to help those in need,’’ said Dartmouth Police Officer Alec Grant.  “It’s an honor to do it every year.’’

Dispatcher Patrick Mendonca donned a colorful outfit to “bring holiday cheer’’ to the day, he said. With his brightly colored look and a large bell, he visited the Route 6 entrance of the Target plaza to beckon passersby to stop.

“People have been so generous,’’ said crime analyst Keri Lebeau. She and her colleagues worked at a table where people donated toys, gift cards and cash. “It’s amazing.’’ 

Among the morning’s visitors was the Dartmouth High School hockey team. The players brought along bags of toys, some of which were donated at their recent scrimmage.

“We want to give back to kids who aren’t as fortunate as we are,’’ said team captain Joshua Nelson. 

Logan Larrabee, who is scheduled to join the Dartmouth Police Department after graduating from the police academy in May, lent a hand at the event, as did three other prospective Dartmouth police officers now at the academy.

Some children, Larrabee said, need some help around the holidays. “I want to make their Christmas happy,’’ she said. 

Mother and daughter Candi Durant and Brooke Baker were joined by a third generation _ Baker’s daughter Mya Baker, 8, helped collect toys.

Durant said she likes to help when she can and she shared that dedication to giving on to her daughter Brooke, who is in turn passing it along to Mya, who eagerly accepted donations at the bus door.

“I like helping families in need,’’ Mya said.