Moments from the Toy Project’s gift delivery last year. Elk Grove police officers, Cosumnes firefighters, and volunteers dropped off Christmas presents to homes across Elk Grove.

Cosumnes firefighters, Elk Grove police officers, and local volunteers acted as “elves” last December when they delivered Christmas gifts to nearly 230 children in the Elk Grove community and nearby rural areas.

These children live in families who underwent financial hardships during the holidays. Uniformed firefighters and police officers knocked on their doors to give them tall bags filled with toys and other presents donated by the public.

Such moments are a part of the Toy Project that’s organized by the Elk Grove Police Department, Cosumnes Fire Department, Wilton Fire Department, and the Salvation Army.

“(The gifts) provide them with a wonderful holiday experience that they otherwise just plain and simple wouldn’t have,” said Kristopher Packwood, a Toy Project organizer and crime prevention specialist for the Elk Grove police.

The Toy Project’s staff is now collecting gift donations for this year’s delivery. Plans are to distribute the presents to homes on Dec. 14. They also plan to drop off gifts at the UC Davis Medical Center, Sutter General’s pediatric unit, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, and the Ronald McDonald House.

“That’s an incredibly overwhelming day to see the gratitude on the children’s faces,” Packwood said about the hospital visits. “They are really in the fight for their lives.”

He noted that, unlike other Christmas gift programs, the Toy Project’s volunteers wrap each gift and hand-deliver it as opposed to having recipients pick them up at a location.

For the Toy Project, recipients are referred to organizers by local schools and community members. The Salvation Army staff also provides boxes of food for the children’s families during the gift delivery day.

Packwood recalled hearing stories of families experiencing hardships such as job layoffs and abusive environments. He mentioned a case about a young mother and her children who fled a violent home and felt that she had nowhere to go for help.

“Because of the assistance that law enforcement provided her, she was able to find safety,” Packwood said. “We were also able to provide them a wonderful holiday – the amount of gratitude from the sheer gesture brought her to tears.”

Where to donate gifts for the Toy Project

Community members can donate new and unwrapped toys, games, or stuffed animals to stations across the city.

Here are the locations: every Cosumnes fire station, Elk Grove police station (8400 Laguna Palms Way), Senior Center of Elk Grove (8830 Sharkey Ave.), Les Schwab Tires (8410 Elk Grove Blvd.), Dentistry by Design (9381 East Stockton Blvd.), Enterprise Rent-A-Car (8420 Elk Grove Blvd.), Sunshine Swim and Fitness Center (9360 Elk Grove-Florin Road), Dreaming Dog Brewery (2501 West Taron Court), California Northstate University (9700 West Taron Drive), Driven Insurance (8126 Sheldon Road), Maita Chevrolet (9650 Auto Center Drive), Realty Roundup (9401 East Stockton Blvd.), Best Buy (9131 West Stockton Blvd.), Retro Styling Studio (9792 Bruceville Road), and Tilted Mash Brewing (9175 Union Park Way).

For more information on the Toy Project, contact the Elk Grove police’s crime prevention staff at (916) 478-8122.