Crowds turn out for annual Fill-A-Bus toy drive

Dec 16, 2023

The Grinch abandoned his usual gift-stealing schemes to assist the Dartmouth Police Department in hosting its annual Fill-A-Bus toy drive Saturday morning outside the Dartmouth Target. 

“I love to give,” the new and improved Grinch said. “I have a big heart now.” 

Generous residents from across Dartmouth and surrounding communities came to the event to load their gifts into two full-sized school buses parked out front. Among those people was Fairhaven resident Barbara Amaral, who donated a stuffed animal, some toy cars and a doll. 

“It’s showing people that they’re not alone,” Amaral said. “We have people out here who do care and do want to help.”

One of those people is Deloris Joseph. As the youth advocate for the Town of Dartmouth, Joseph helps connect children to life changing services that provide financial support, food assistance and mental health services. 

“Food insecurity continues to be our number one priority,” she said. 

The holiday pressure to buy presents can be daunting for families struggling to get by. Not spending money on a gift is money saved for covering utilities or buying groceries, she said.

“A child doesn’t understand if mom or dad has lost their job or if their house is being foreclosed,” she said. “They still see Christmas as a time of getting gifts, and no parent or no guardian wants to disappoint their child.”

Donating toys alleviates some of that financial burden.  

“It takes some of the pressure off some of the families,” Joseph said of the toy drive. “That’s one less thing they have to worry about.”

As shoppers and volunteers loaded hundreds of presents into the school buses, Dartmouth Community Media live streamed a telethon complete with karaoke to raise donations for families across Dartmouth.The telethon, filmed and hosted by the High School media club, aired on Dartmouth local channel 18. 

Select Board member Shawn McDonald also attended the toy drive. His family-owned business North Dartmouth Properties donated $1,000 to the toy drive. 

“It brings the community together to help those who really are in need,” McDonald said.

At only a couple hours into the event, the school bus seats were overflowing with presents. Some brand new children’s bicycles were lined up beside the buses. 

“I would hope that people would be this generous throughout the year,” Joseph said. “Because need doesn’t just happen in December or Christmas or Thanksgiving. Families are in need year round.”