Five cruisers stuffed in FOP charity drive

Morning Journal/Mary Ann Greier Santa hands a candy cane to 5-year-old Paxton Booth of Salem, who was accompanied by Rachael Macry to the Stuff a Cruiser event.

SALEM — Donors dropped off enough toys and clothing to fill five police cruisers Saturday during the second annual Stuff a Cruiser event at Salem Walmart, but organizers said they’ll continue accepting donations this week at the Salem Police Department.

“We want to help as many families in our community as possible,” Salem Patrolman Mike Garber said.

Garber serves as president of the Fraternal Order of Police Quaker Lodge 88, which includes retired and current law enforcement officers from around Columbiana County. The FOP Quaker Lodge 88 organized Stuff a Cruiser with assistance from OhioCAN Change Addiction Now Columbiana County and participation from the Salem Police Department, Columbiana Police Department and Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office. Goshen Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol Lisbon Post also assisted at the event.

Four members of the K-9 contingent in Columbiana County and their handlers were on hand to greet visitors, too, including Garber with K-9 Simon, Salem Patrolman Steve LaRosa with K-9 Argo, sheriff’s Lt. Allan Young with K-9 Jesy and the newest member of the group, Columbiana Patrolman Bryan Granchie with K-9 Csuti.

Last year’s Stuff a Cruiser helped over 70 children.

Garber said people who couldn’t make it to the Walmart parking lot because of the weather or the Ohio State Buckeyes game against the team from up north still have an opportunity to donate by dropping off a new unwrapped toy at the Salem Police Department today, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday anytime.

Brenda Hamilton of OhioCAN Columbiana County, who assisted with the organization of the event, said they try to get everything on the lists because the kids fill them out themselves. The shopping list handed out to shoppers was created with help from Children Services based on what children wanted.

Besides thanking anyone who donated and anyone who helped, Garber offered special thanks to the wives of officers and his fellow officers themselves who stayed at the station sorting all the presents.

Detective Sgt. Mike Helman of the sheriff’s office, while assisting at the Stuff a Cruiser event, was also promoting the ninth annual Christmas Toy Drive for his department. The toy drive in previous years always benefitted Akron Children’s Hospital, but this year the sheriff’s office personnel decided to do everything for the local community.

“We had comments made on Facebook about wanting us to do it locally,” he said, adding that there are a lot of kids displaced, living with grandparents who can’t afford to buy them much.

Once gathered, donations will be made to Columbiana County Children Services and Heroes and Halos, a group which supports children with special needs and their families.

Unwrapped toys for the sheriff’s office drive can be dropped off 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to the civil division location in the basement of the county courthouse, 105 S. Market St., or the criminal division in the basement of the jail, 8473 County Home Road, Lisbon, open 24 hours a day. Donations can also be dropped off at Tiny Tots Depot & Sports Station, 7735 state Route 45, Lisbon, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, or to Southern Local Schools during school hours.

Donations for the sheriff’s office toy drive will be accepted through Dec. 14. A Stuff a Cruiser event for the toy drive will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Tiny Tots in Lisbon.