Local police and firefighters will exchange toys for rides in cop cars and fire trucks on Saturday, Dec. 15 to benefit needy kids in the community.
The annual Rides for Toys event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot of the Ahwatukee Foothills Target, 4734 E. Ray Road.
Each year Phoenix firefighters and police officers put on the event. Residents can bring a new unwrapped toy and exchange it for a ride in a fire truck or police car. Santa Claus will even make an appearance for some added fun. The firefighters and officers will then deliver the toys to needy kids throughout the Valley.
The Rides for Toys event was started by Fire Station 38 in Ahwatukee around 1986. When the firefighters there saw a need they set up a quick sign offering rides for toys and the response was immediate, Division Chief Doug Mummert said. From there it has grown. The fire department began to team up with Target and the police department making it an annual community event.
Mummert said Rides for Toys always sees its donations affected by the economy, but they always seem to get enough.
“When times are good people can afford to help others a little bit more, but when times are tough they have to tighten the belt a little,” Mummert said. “Even in the toughest times like we had two or three years ago, the community still came through for us and the people we are trying to help. We help out a lot of various Valley agencies.”
There will be a Rides for Toys event Dec. 8 at the Deer Valley Target, 2727 W. Agua Fria Freeway, at the same time as the one in Ahwatukee from 5 to 8 p.m. All the police and firefighters working the event will be donating their time. Those who cannot make it out to either event can still drop off toys at any Phoenix fire station.
“It’s really just a win-win for the community,” Mummert said. “It also gives us an opportunity for both police and firefighters to get some safety messages in and build some relationships with the community in more of an unofficial capacity. When we have the kids right there front and center we give them a little pop quiz on some safety things. They get to meet the officers and firefighters during a happy circumstance so if they have to encounter them during an emergency it’ll be a little less stressful.”
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