ALEXANDRIA, VA-The union that represents the Alexandria Fire Department, IAFF Local 2141, launched their annual toy drive today, exactly a week before Christmas. You can donate between now and Christmas Day. Your donation will bring joy to children in need this holiday season. Every fire station in the city is accepting new, unwrapped toys this week.
Donations are for kids up to age 16 and can include: action figures, dolls, board games, sports equipment, and arts & crafts kits. Gift cards are welcome. Presents will be given to children who live in the city’s shelters.
“We see firsthand the hardships some families face,” says 2141 Executive Board Member and toy drive organizer Mike Chandler, “and we believe every child deserves a magical holiday. This toy drive is our way of giving back, ensuring that children who are stuck in the hospital, or in the shelter over the holidays can still wake up to the joy of opening a present on Christmas morning.”
For Chandler, the work does not begin at Thanksgiving. He spends an untold number of hours throughout the year working to make sure that those in need have a special holiday. And on occasion, personal sacrifice comes into play. He has to find space in his house for all the deliveries.
“Sometimes, right before the toys are delivered,” said his wife, Rosemary, with a laugh, “when our basement fills up with so many toys that we can’t use the space for anything else, I give [Mike] some crap. But I know it’s for good deeds, so I’m more than fine with it.”
A complete list of fire stations with addresses can be found HERE.
The toy drive began 35 years ago when Retired Captain asked his crew to give toys to children at Alexandria Hospital instead of buding gifts for each other. Upon his retirement 24 years ago Chandler took charge of the event.
“My wife and I both grew up in Alexandria, and I’ve worked for the city for the last 34 years, so we have deep roots in this community,”Chandler said. “This toy drive is something I’ve been doing since I’ve been in the department – it’s a way of giving back to the community that we protect everyday.”
He noted that each donation “makes a difference,”pointing out that kids who receive your donations have been through so much over the last few years because of the pandemic, and now, are impacted by staying in the shelter.
“Our goal is to try to give these kids the best holiday they can possibly have,” Chandler said. [SEE ALSO: Pretty Woman the Musical at National Theater]