Howie Allan (left) shakes hands with Sgt. Davinder Dalep of the Oak Bay Police Department after dropping off dozens of stuffed animals for police to give to kids (File contributed/ Howie Allan)

Victoria Facebook community collects toys for police to give to kids

First responders often give toys to kids in high-stress situations

A Victoria Facebook group has collected over 300 stuffed animals for police departments across the capital region to give to kids.

The group administrator, Howie Allan, said he got the idea after talking to the Oak Bay Police Department and learning that they were down to a handful of toys to give children in high-stress situations.

“Sometimes they go to family domestic calls, and the worst thing for a kid to see is a police officer arresting their parent,” Allan said. “Giving them a toy can make a difference.”

The toys are also used by other first responders, like fire fighters.

“It just takes the fear out of the situation, in one little way,” Allan said.

ALSO READ: Santa’s Helpers kick off toy drive Monday in Sidney

Allan volunteers at the Royal Oak Burial park where he cleans headstones, and received a donation from a couple whose family member is buried at the site. He used the donation to go to the dollar store and buy three stuffed animals for the police, before putting out a call on his Facebook page, “WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED.”

Since putting out the call on Nov. 18, community members have collected over 300 stuffed animals and dropped them off at the Petro-Can gas station at Cedar Hill Cross Road and Saanich.

ALSO READ: Seven-year-old donates nearly $700 to SPCA

On Wednesday Allan dropped off about 40 of the stuffed animals at the Oak Bay Police Department.

“A gentleman had collected stuffed animals for kids, through social media, and asked us if we could use them to provide to children we encounter who are victims or witnesses of crime,” said Oak Bay Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties in an email. “We have used stuffed animals for this purpose in the past and we were pleased to accept the donation and will ensure they go to good use.”

Allan intends to drop more off at the Saanich and Victoria Police Departments, or anywhere else that needs them, in the near future.

“There’s no big rush, we’ll keep collecting them,” he said. “If worse comes to worst and the departments don’t need them, then we can always donate them to Santa’s Anonymous.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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