WAYNE COUNTY, PA — The Wayne County Commissioners’ meeting room was nearly overflowing with bags full of toys on December 5, after the Children’s Christmas Bureau (CCB) and the sheriff’s department had completed their annual Cram the Cruiser toy drive.
Volunteers went to three different stores this year and collected toy donations that will go to families throughout the area to ensure that “every kid is guaranteed toys Christmas morning.”
The CCB got its start several decades ago when employees from the Department of Children & Youth pooled resources to provide gifts for children who had recently been placed in foster care. The bureau is now a stand-alone, locally funded 501(c)(3) charity. Each October, eligible Wayne County families sign up to receive toys from the CCB, so that they have gifts for their children on Christmas morning. Members of the bureau shop specifically for those families; the toys collected during the Cram the Cruiser drive serve as bonus presents for the children.
Looking out at all the toys they had collected, sheriff Mark Steelman said, “It just keeps growing and growing. You’re going to need a bigger room next year.”
Rich Hnatko of the CCB said the success of the drive demonstrates just as much about the sheriff’s department’s generosity as the community’s.
“These were people who walked in the store, bought something they didn’t want or need and handed it over to somebody else,” Hnatko said. “I think that says a lot about the community that we live in.”
The CCB can afford to buy toys for more than 300 children each year from various fundraisers including dance recitals, high school plays and the peculiar, annual “Shower for Charity” in which local radio personality Mike Stanton sports only a pair of Christmas boxers and takes a hot shower outside in downtown Honesdale in the middle of winter.
Hnatko said that the bureau will continue accepting sign-ups right up until Christmas Eve.
“We will not turn somebody away,” he said. “We want to make sure that the children wake up Christmas morning, in spite of everything that year has brought them and their family, and get that one special morning.