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December 23, 2009 > Toys for Kids program short of toys this year

Toys for Kids program short of toys this year

Submitted By Thor Poulsen

This year's "Toys for Kids" drive began as expected with Hayward Firefighters Union, Local 1909 members leading collection efforts. Off-duty firefighters donated their time wrapping barrels with holiday paper and delivering them to strategic locations around Hayward, City Hall and various businesses that wanted them on their premises.

"Unfortunately, donations have been very low this year," stated Firefighter Matt Buckingham. "We've received less than 50 percent of what we have normally seen in years past."

Buckingham should know. He has spearheaded the drive for the last decade. Hayward Firefighters Union raises money throughout the year for the toy drive by holding fundraisers such as the Hayward Firefighters Golf Tournament and Charity Softball events.

"We typically raise at least $3,000 each year to buy toys just before Christmas to supplement what is donated. The local may have to dig deeper this year and spend another $3,000 to make up the difference. We're just really short this year," says Buckingham.

Hayward firefighters deliver to local non-profit groups that, in turn, give to children who may not have received gifts this year. All of the collected and purchased toys go to Hayward families.

"All the funds raised are spent entirely on toys that go to Hayward kids," emphasized Thor Poulsen, Public Education officer, Emergency Services Office. "We'll try to complete our deliveries to non-profit organizations, such as Terra Firma and La Familia, on December 24 to avoid troubling anyone the following day. Most of the non-profits will distribute gifts between December 21 and Christmas Eve though some will do so on Christmas Day."

Hayward's nine fire stations will accept last-minute toy donations for this Christmas and throughout the year for distribution the following Christmas. Donated checks can be made out to the "Hayward Firefighters Toy Drive."

For more information, contact Thor Poulsen, Public Education Officer, Hayward Fire Department, 777 B Street, Hayward, CA 94541, call (510) 583-4948 or email

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