SFPD, fire department team up for toy drive

December 23, 2011 7:50:53 PM PST
San Francisco firefighters are getting some heavy-duty help with their annual holiday toy drive. The police department is playing a larger role this year, with officers delivering gifts themselves.

Over the past 10 years, firefighters have collected toys to help needy kids in the area, but for the first time, San Francisco police will help them in their efforts.

A convoy of San Francisco police officers played Santa's elves in front of Lefty O'Doul's on Thursday. Stashed inside the compartments of their motorcycles were toys to be delivered to less fortunate children in the city.

The former police chief gladly played the role of Santa Claus.

"It's a big deal because it helps the kids of San Francisco, the kids who may not get Christmas presents," former police chief Tony Ribera said.

The police will reach out -- way out. Off-duty police officers will find time to deliver the toys on Christmas Day to children in higher-risk neighborhoods.

"We don't want to have anybody left out, especially if we kind of know where those areas are," said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. "It's kind of what cops and firefighters and the community has always been about: Kids first."

The annual toy drive has been a staple of the fire department, and maybe now the police department. The more the merrier.

But given the shaky economy, this year's toy drive will be challenge as the generosity of the Bay Area is tested.

"It's a little harder with the kids and stuff," said one Bay Area resident. "But it's Christmastime. It's a good time to share."

There will be a large opportunity to donate beginning Saturday at 7 a.m. until midnight at Lefty O'Doul's on Powell Street. An "elf" will come to you and get your toy -- no need to get out of the car.

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