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ASU Police holds holiday toy and food drive

December 01, 2009

One woman’s livelihood was threatened by medical bills as a result of her husband’s fight against cancer. Other members of the ASU community are living on tight budgets as they complete degrees while supporting families. Some are struggling to make ends meet on one income instead of two.

To ensure that university families get the help they need during the holidays (as well as toys for their little ones), the ASU Police Department will be holding their annual toy and food drive.

“There are a lot of families in need with the downturn in the economy. They're just struggling to get by,” says ASU Police Department Sgt. Patrick Murphy, who organizes the drive every year. Murphy took over the duties as chief organizer of the holiday drive after Sgt. Bill Wright retired a few years ago. Assistant Police Chief Allen Clark started the drive about 10 years ago.

During the past 10 years, the police department has joined forces with members of ASU and many from the surrounding communities to provide food and toys for additional families. Organizations like the Student Recreation Complex, ASU’s Employee Assistance Office, the W. Steven Martin Police Toy Drive, and the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association have allowed the department to share with additional families. 

Food boxes donated by the ASU community not only provide a holiday meal, but help contribute supplies when finances are tight. ASU’s police departments are accepting non-perishable food donations now and perishable food items such as turkeys and hams a day or two before Dec. 23, when the boxes are distributed. 

“In the past couple of years, we've been pretty successful with our food drive. We provided food and toys for 13 families last year,” Murphy said. ASU’s Police Department is also accepting new toy donations to hand out to needy children during the holidays.  

Officers are enlisting the aid of Boy Scout Troop 17 to help wrap toys at a Christmas gift wrapping party on Dec. 23 at the ASU Tempe Police Station. One of the Boy Scouts is organizing all of the holiday events to earn his Eagle Scout rank. The scouts also cook breakfast for officers and children during “Shop With a Cop,” when officers accompany deserving kids to Target during the holidays in conjunction with the Police Officers of Scottsdale Association.

“It gives a child a good experience with a police officer, and they get to go on a shopping spree at Target,” Murphy said. “They can pick up presents for themselves or their families.” 

The police officers benefit from the experience as well. “You can see a change in a lot of the officers’ personalities," Murphy said. “They liven up. It's a good experience for the child and for the officer.” 

Food and toy donations may be brought to any of the ASU Police Departments on the four campuses during normal business hours. Members of the ASU community are also welcome to help wrap toys at the Dec. 23 event.

After toys are wrapped and food boxes assembled, ASU police officers and members of the Boy Scout troop deliver the goods. 

“Last year, we delivered boxes into Christmas Eve. It was a lot of work, but it was well worth it,” Murphy said.

Especially when delivering to a woman whose husband was dying of terminal cancer. 

“She couldn’t thank us enough," Murphy said. "She was just overjoyed that someone was actually coming to help her out."

The holiday drives demonstrate one of many ways the ASU Police Department reaches out to the university’s students, faculty and staff. 

“This is another example of how we build our partnership with the ASU community," said Police Chief John Pickens. "The program has been successful because of dedicated and passionate individuals who believe in helping others in need."

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