Five police cruisers with flashing lights and a pick-up truck sit in the parking lot at Harris Teeter at Harrison Shopping Center waiting to be loaded with toys on Nov. 21. Corporal Beth Lennon with the Community Outreach Section of Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) says, "Last year we had so many toys we had to go dump them in our warehouse and come back to fill the cruisers up again. So this year we brought more vehicles."
She says last night they were at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on S 23rd Street for a similar event and they had a fire truck there to entertain the kids. Friday, Nov. 22 they will be at Fashion Center at Pentagon City. This is part of the fifth annual holiday "Fill the Cruiser with Toys" drive sponsored by the ACPD.
It is 6 p.m. and already the parking lot is congested with cars lining up to donate their toys. Betsy B says, "I came straight here from buying them." She unloaded a Barbie airplane, a large box of matchbox cars and Frozen figurines. "It's such a nice thing for kids and for the police to do."
An SUV pulls up and the side door rolls open. Squishmallows, the plush toy of the year for 2019, are squashed into every spare space along with boxes of popular toys. Yvonne Zecca loads up her arms and hands the boxes to a line of officers waiting to assist. Zecca opens the back hatch and pulls out another zebra striped squishmallow. Her driver comments, "She just loves giving things away."
Emma Kamanova stands behind her grandmother as she shyly hands a package to Lt. Kip Malcolm. He says, "I'm in the Criminal Investigation Section. I used to be in the Community Outreach Section, but everyone likes to come out and get involved." There are seven officers scattered across the lot helping load packages into their vehicles.
Those wishing to donate toys who were in unable to attend the Fill the Cruiser events can drop off new unwrapped toy donations for newborn-17 at Police Headquarters located at 1425 N. Courthouse Road until Friday, Dec. 13 at the 2nd floor Administrative Support Unit.