Law Enforcement Agencies Across Alabama Stage 2nd Annual “Operation Toy Drop”
Contact: Kathy Bowers 205/914-0357 or kathy.bowers@childrensAL.org
BIRMINGHAM (Nov. 13, 2013) – The second annual Operation Toy Drop will take place Friday, Dec. 6 as aviation units from law enforcement agencies across Alabama gather in Birmingham to help Santa deliver hundreds of toys by helicopter to Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only freestanding pediatric hospital.
Operation Toy Drop begins that morning at 9 a.m. as officers and helicopter crews from 14 law enforcement agencies across the state meet Santa Claus at Bessemer Airport (900 Mitchell Field Rd., Bessemer 35022) to load up the choppers with goodies and enjoy lunch together before the flights to Children’s start taking off around 1:15 p.m. The first flight will transport Santa to the rooftop helipad of Children’s McWane Building (1600 7th Ave. S., Birmingham, 35233.) Remaining flights will follow about every four minutes until all toys have been delivered.
At the hospital, Santa and his elves will help unload the bags of toys which will be donated to Children’s Sugar Plum Shop, a special in-hospital toy store built and operated by staff, corporate partners and volunteers who invite parents of currently hospitalized patients to “shop” free of charge for gifts for the patient child and siblings. The Sugar Plum Shop gives those parents the opportunity to provide all the magic of the holidays for their kids. Each year, more than 500 children receive gifts from the Sugar Plum Shop.
During Operation Toy Drop, the helicopters will approach Children’s from one side of the building and depart from the opposite side, giving all patients and families the opportunity to witness the flights regardless of where their rooms are located.
“We are so grateful to the area law enforcement agencies for organizing their communities to support Children’s and for creating such a magical moment for our patients. There’s nothing more special than seeing a child waving through his hospital room window at Santa hopping off a helicopter. We can’t thank these officers enough for spreading holiday joy at Children’s again this year,” said Wynne Speir, Children’s Community Action Coordinator.
Participating law enforcement agencies that have confirmed their participation in Operation Toy Drop include the Sheriff’s Department in Coffee , Morgan, Limestone, Etowah, Marshall, Dale, Houston, Jefferson, Russell and Chilton counties, Tuscaloosa Police Department, Cullman Police Department, Alabama State Troopers and Hoover Police Department. Tim McDonald of the Dale County Sheriff’s Office is spearheading the event.
This year, Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union locations throughout south Alabama will serve as drop-off locations for Operation Toy Drop. New, unwrapped toys, games and books may be placed in the special Operation Toy Drop bins to be transported to the hospital and donated to the Sugar Plum Shop. A list of recommended gifts is available at www.ChildrensAL.org/Holidays.
Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children since 1911, offering inpatient and outpatient services throughout central Alabama. Last year, families made more than 670,000 outpatient and nearly 14,000 inpatient visits to Children’s from every county in Alabama and from 41 other states and four foreign countries. With more than 2 million square feet, Children’s is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. and has been ranked among the top children’s hospital programs in the country for the past four years by US News & World Report. More information is available at www.ChildrensAL.org.