Three buses full: Community turns out for police toy drive

Dec 19, 2020

Holiday shoppers at Target on Saturday may have seen a big yellow bus parked at the store’s entrance — but it wasn’t there for a school trip.

The Dartmouth Police Department held its annual “Fill the Bus” toy drive on Dec. 19.

Safe Zones  — the charity that runs the toy drives with participation from police departments throughout the Greater New Bedford area  — has been holding the holiday toy drives for a decade, sending the toys to local families in need.

And according to Police Department spokesperson Det. Kyle Costa, this year’s toy drive was one of the best, as the department filled three yellow school buses with toys and other gifts.

“This rivals our best year,” Costa said. “It’s been amazing. The generosity’s been absolutely outstanding.”

“There’s no question there’s more of a need [this year],” he added. “A lot of parents are out of work, in addition to the families that were already in need prior to 2020.”

Members of the department dressed in their holiday finest — including at least one elf, a reindeer, and even Santa himself — to collect cash donations as well, which go towards gifts for older kids and teens. This year they took in around $1,500, Costa said.

And it was a community effort.

Costa highlighted the contributions of many different businesses around town, which offered services, donations, equipment, and volunteers to the cause.

These included Target and Tremblay’s Bus Company as well as Big Wheel Trucks, the Dartmouth fire department, STAT ambulance services — which showed up with an ambulance full of toys — and the Clark family of M & M Auto Services, who volunteered their time alongside a sizable donation of gifts.

“I’ve been doing this for like the last three or four years,” said Dennis Clark, who noted that he just did it to help out, along with wife Tricia and son Jaedyn, 8. 

“Just showing my kid what he’s supposed to do this time of year,” he added with a laugh.

Amanda and Joe Creador — who just moved to Dartmouth from New Bedford — said this was their first time donating to fill the bus, as they dropped off bags and boxes. 

“This is fantastic,” said a bystander in a candy cane and Christmas tree face mask as she watched them hand over the gifts.

Candi Durant of Tremblay’s Bus company volunteers for the drive every year — in part, she said, because of “the outpouring of love that people show.”

“Especially this year, it’s amazing,” she said. “After the really rough year we’ve had.”