Each year, just before Christmas, the Community Room at the Watertown Police Station fills with toys destined for families struggling during the holiday season.
The effort is the continuation of the work of the late-Sgt. John “Sonny” Whooley – a Watertown Police officer who made it his mission to make the children in the community a little happier, said Det. David Collins, who oversees the drive these days. Members of the Watertown Police and Fire departments do much of the work.
The Whooley Foundation collects toys at restaurants and stores around Watertown, takes donations and teams with the Marine Corps League of Watertown.
“The Marine Corps gives us the Toys for Tots donations from Watertown and we redistribute them to the community,” Collins said. “We also give meals to some of the families.”
Employees at Watertown Savings Bank also went out to buy gifts for the foundation.
This year, the Whooley Foundation worked with 95 families, with anywhere from one to five children, Collins said. They are referred to the foundation by a variety of sources, including the Watertown Public Schools and the Probation Department at the Waltham District Court, Collins said.
When the toys are packed up, Watertown Police officers and Firefighters take them to the family to spread some holiday cheer. Collins visits some of the families himself.
“They’re very excited and thankful for what we do,” Collins said. “I get calls and cards every year. It is a very appreciative community.”
The Whooley Foundation thanks the following groups for supporting its effort: Watertown Police Association, Watertown Police Supervisors Association, Watertown Firefighters Union, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Marine Corps League of Watertown, Watertown Savings Bank Employees, Strip T’s, The Greater Boston Church, The VFW Post 1105, Starbucks, G.M. Walsh Plumbing, Commonwealth Construction and Utilities, Porcini’s Restaurant and many generous citizens of Watertown.