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University of Kentucky police seek donations for ‘Cram the Cruiser’ holiday toy drive for KCH

By Kathy Johnson
University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky Police Department is seeking donations to “Cram the Cruiser” again this holiday season. This is UKPD’s fourth annual toy drive for UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH).

From now until Dec. 17, new, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the UK Police Department Headquarters at the corner of Rose Street and Euclid Avenue on campus. UK Police hope to cram a police cruiser full of new toys.

UK Police Chief Joe Monroe went undercover as Santa Claus in December 2019 to deliver donated toys from the Cram the Cruiser toy drive to Kentucky Children’s Hospital. (Photo by Mandi Banahan, UK Police Department)

The KCH wish list of acceptable items by age can be viewed at ukhealthcare.uky.edu. Toys and books for children of ages infant to teen will be accepted. Items must comply with infection control and safety standards. Online giving to the KCH Child Life Department is also an option at the above link, and monetary donations can be made online as well at uky.networkforgood.com.

“This has been a tough year for everyone, and being involved in our community to help kids in the hospital who are away from their homes is something everyone at UKPD holds close to our hearts,” said UK Police Chief Joe Monroe. “The Cram the Cruiser event is a tradition for our department, and we invite the UK and Lexington communities to help make this year the most exciting one yet for the kids at KCH and their families.”

Delivering the toys to Kentucky Children’s Hospital is so special for Monroe, he trades his police uniform for a full-blown Santa Claus suit. He even sports a full gray beard after participating in No Shave November fundraising.

UK Police Officer Culver with K-9 therapy dog Hudson and Officer Morris shop for the 2019 Cram the Cruiser toy drive. (Photo by Mandi Banahan, UK Police Department)

Important community partners in the toy drive are the family of Jonathan Ard and 3M company of Cynthiana. Ard, who was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army and served two tours of duty in Iraq before returning to Kentucky and working as an engineer at 3M, died of leukemia in 2016. His family and 3M employees participate in the toy drive in his honor and join UK Police to deliver the items to KCH.

Additionally, UK Police will donate the majority of the proceeds from their No Shave November fundraiser to the toy drive. From October until the end of January, Monroe allows exemptions from the strict professional appearance standards for a $25 per month donation toward the No Shave November fundraiser. Since UK Police started participating in No Shave November, a large portion of their fundraising proceeds have gone toward cancer research or toys for the KCH toy drive, with a secondary portion to the UKPD Scholarship Fund.

Kathy Johnson writes for UK Now

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