Local toy drives call for help


Santa didn't have a sleigh, but he did have a couple of wagons and his Oakland firefighter buddies to help deliver toys to children in the pediatric ward of Kaiser Hospital on Tuesday.

It's the final hours of the Christmas toy drive season and around the Bay Area, everyone is pitching in -- from the authorities to the Hells Angels, who on Monday in San Francisco dropped off an entire truckload of toys for needy children.

"There's a part that really gets you right in the heart because you now that these kids are sick, pretty sick," said Captain Tony Perez from the Oakland Fire Department.

A group of Oakland firefighters had enough toys to get through the intensive care unit, but elsewhere, it's been a rough year.

In these tough economic times, toy drives around the country have struggled to collect donations, and the firefighters and police officers delivering these toys are no exception.

"The need obviously is much greater this year and our donations were down just like everybody else," said Renee Hassna from the Oakland Police Officer's Association.

On Wednesday, the Oakland Police Officer's Association will deliver toys and food to 75 families. The union that represents Oakland Police had so few donations this year it had to go out and buy toys and blankets to give away.

The gifts are already wrapped and ready for delivery, but in some places, the call for toys is still on.

"We need computer games, hoodies for girls and make-up things like that. The tweens are the ones that are often neglected during this time," said Lefty O'Douls Toy Drive Organizer Peggy Dohrman.

At the Union Square watering hole, gifts can be delivered until the early morning hours on Christmas. The annual Lefty O'Douls toy drive is still short 2,500 toys. All you have to do is drive up and drop one off -- it could make someone's Christmas.

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