ITHACA,N.Y. — Police and emergency response agencies throughout the county joined forces Thursday morning with a common goal: get Christmas presents delivered to 538 local students in need.

The annual Cops, Kids & Toys drive kicked off at the Triphammer Marketplace where police officers came by to collect pre-packaged  bags of toys to be delivered to low-income families, a tradition that started in the early 1980s.

Bill Apgar, a first-year president at the organization, said, “It’s very touching. We have a lot of touching stories.”

He said sometimes families hug officers and other times people cry for having the opportunity to give their children a memorable Christmas.

Toys are collected in the weeks leading up to the holidays at various locations throughout the community, and every year, Agpar said, the organization gets more organized and is able to reach more children.

“We are serving more people probably than we ever have,” he said.

Toys were heaped high on tables waiting to be sorted — bikes, Barbies, toy trucks and plush stuffed animals — all while officers geared up to play Santa Claus for the day.

The Ithaca Police Department’s youngest policeman Officer Colin Hayward Toland also stopped by to help deliver presents.

Check out these 22 photos from this morning. All photos by Jolene Almendarez/ The Ithaca Voice. 

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.