'Stuff the Ambulance' Drive Makes Holidays Brighter for Iron Range Children

By KBJR News 1

November 23, 2012 Updated Nov 23, 2012 at 10:29 PM CST

Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Iron Range Law enforcement members are holding their first annual 'Stuff the Ambulance' toy drive this year for Iron Range children in need.

The Virginia Fire Department, The Iron Range FOP and the Gilbert, Eveleth and Virginia Police Departments are holding the drive from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday in the parking lot of the Virginia McDonald's.

Within just hours of kicking off their drive Friday, about 100 hundred toys had been donated.

"It's not like people bring in one toy. We've got people bringing in bags of toys," said Gilbert Police Officer Hal Henning of the generosity.

The agencies hope that the donations help their drive live up to its name; an important goal, with so many families in need.

"We've just had a lot of requests for help [this year]," Henning said,
"We wanted to think of something a little different that we could do that would help with that need."

It's need that Gilbert Police Officer Hal Henning knows first–hand.

"I was in a children's home when I was younger. [Virginia Fire] Chief L'Allier, his kids are from foster care and we just figured we've been there," said Henning, "We know what it's like to not have something for Christmas."

That makes this drive all the more personal.

"I've always kind of had a special spot for kids in trouble and in need," Henning said.

To help the cause, the Virginia McDonald's is giving free Happy Meals to anyone who donates a toy.

"I have a couple small children myself and just knowing that there's some kids out there that really don't have that good of a Christmas," said McDonald's General Manager Pam Reini of why the cause was important to her.

"It's great knowing that you can do something, even if it's minor, to make a kid's day," Henning said.

All donations will be given to the Salvation Army for distribution.

Anyone wanting to donate can bring new, unwrapped toys to the ambulance at the Virginia McDonald's from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.