The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 13, 2020 1:00 am

Police spend morning handing out presents

Toy giveaway draws in hundreds of cars; earliest at 5:30 a.m.

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

At 10 a.m. nearly 150 vehicles had made it through the fast-moving toy giveaway line at Vorderman Volkswagen on Saturday, after drivers inched along West Washington Center Road on to Cross Creek Boulevard on the city's northwest side.

And there were plenty more cars, trucks and vans to come.

The event was part of The First Responders Children's Foundation Toy Express, of New York City.

The foundation implemented its first toy giveaway this year with many donations, including toy company Mattel and dollmaker American Girl, according to foundation spokeswoman, Sarah Greene, who helped oversee the local operation. A release estimated that nationally the foundation would distribute 250,000 toys this year. 

The foundation tapped Connie and Reggie Vorderman to help give away more than 2,000 toys here because of an existing relationship with the couple and their business, Greene said.

Alex Vorderman said dealership surveillance video showed the first car arrived for the toy giveaway around 5:30 a.m.

One woman coming through the car dealership's Toy Express said it took her two hours to get through the line. 

The dealership's employees worked alongside some of the top brass of the Fort Wayne Police and Allen County Sheriff's department as they took orders for the number of children – boys and girls – in each vehicle. 

“What do we have back here?” FWPD Capt. P.J. Smith asked a family. “Three boys and two girls,” he said, turning to Deputy Chief Troy Hershberger of the sheriff's department and Fort Wayne Capt. Scott Caudill. 

Toys were stacked behind officers – Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, bright yellow Stanley plastic saws, Fisher Price toy vehicles and Fly Wheels toy trikes, among others. 

“How old are you, young lady?” Hershberger asked so he could indicate to his team which age-appropriate toy he needed. 

At the front of the operation, Deputy Chief Steve Haffner used some policing skills to wave people on through the line so each bay, filled with officers and employees, could fill the orders. 

When he was asked how many toys he figured he'd given away, he said “not enough. It's Christmas.” 

“I'd say most people are pretty happy with what they're getting,” Smith said.

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