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Firefighters kick off annual toy drive

The Troy Fire Department is doing its part to help make Christmas a little merrier for children at Children’s hospital in Birmingham this year.

The fire department kicked off its 2016 toy drive this week and will be collecting toys through December 15 to take to the hospital before Christmas.

Firefighter DJ Williams started the drive in Troy three years ago and still runs it today.

“Three years ago I called Children’s Hospital to see if we could volunteer for a day, but they don’t allow that due to the health of some of the kids,” Williams said. “That’s when the lady I was speaking with told me about the toy drive they do. Without hesitation, everybody jumped on board and felt like I was something they wanted to do.”

Williams will take the toys to Birmingham on December 16, and this year he’s hoping he’s going to need a bigger truck.

“The first year it was as many toys as we could fit into a pickup truck and last year we actually got a trailer,” Williams said.

“It just depends on how many toys we get in. This year, I’m hoping to have to rent a bigger truck.”

Children’s Hospital will set the toys up for parents to browse and pick free gifts for their children who are at the hospital this Christmas, and leftover toys will go to help with other special events like birthdays.

“It saves parents from having to leave their children to go shopping for Christmas,” Williams said.

“I think most people know someone who has had to spend time at Children’s, and this is just a great thing to do for them.”

Items on the wish list include arts and crafts supplies, toys for infants and toddlers, toys for teens, electronics, gift cards and gift-wrapping supplies.

There are a few rules about what kind of toys can be donated.

• All donated items must be new and in original packaging and unwrapped.

• Items should be politically and religiously neutral.

• Candy, gum and other food items are not accepted.

• Items depicting violence such as guns and swords are not accepted.

Donation can be made at either fire station. Fire Station No. 1 is located at 300 Walnut Street. Fire Station No. 2 is located at 200 S. George Wallace Drive.

For bigger loads, residents can call to have the toys picked up by calling the Troy Fire Department at 344-566-5943 and asking for DJ Williams.