The effort to make sure that every child in town receives a gift for Christmas, one organized by members of the Watertown Police and Fire departments, got a helping hand from one of Watertown’s culinary stars, and the drive needs an extra hand this year.
On Monday afternoon, Chef Mike Fucci presented a check for $1,000 to the Whooley Foundation, the group that organizes the toy drive in town during the holidays each year.
Fucci, who runs Chef Mike’s Kitchen and has been featured multiple times on Food Network, does a lot of work for charities, especially during the holidays. He will be cooking a meal for 1,000 people at the New England Center and Home for Veterans later this month. This is the first year, however, that he has donated to the Whooley Foundation.
“I didn’t know about the toy drive, otherwise I would have done it a lot sooner,” Fucci said. “I’d do anything for a kid. How do you wake up as a 10-year-old with nothing under the tree?”
The donation will be a big help, said Detective Dave Collins, who organizes the drive for the Whooley Foundation.
“Everything helps,” Collins said. “It is really a coming together of people.”
After the toys are collected members of the Watertown Police and Fire departments go around town to distribute the gifts to children from families in need. During the days before the distribution the Community Room in the Police Station is quite a sight with toys piled up waiting to be given out, said provisional Fire Chief Bob Quinn.
“They have the whole room set up,” Quinn said. “We come in and help deliver toys or whatever need be.”
Changes This Year
This year the local effort will have a harder time collecting toys this year, Collins said.
“For years we worked with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots and they provided 75 percent of our toys,” Collins said.
This year the toys collected locally by Toys for Tots will not be able to be directed go to the Whooley Foundation due to changes made by the organizers Toys for Tots drive at a level above the local effort, Collins said.
“It is more of a national thing,” Collins said. “The guys at the (Marine Corps League) Shutt Detachment in Watertown are devastated they can’t help us.”
The Whooley Foundation has set up boxes around Watertown for people to donate new unwrapped toys. They are located at:
Watertown Police Station – 552 Main Street
All 3 Watertown Fire Stations – 99 Main Street, 564 Mount Auburn Street, 270 Orchard Street
Strip T’s Restaurant – 93 School Street
Porcini’s Restaurant – 68 School Street
Watertown Senior Center – 31 Marshall Street
The effort has also been helped by donations from many organizations, including significant ones from G.M. Walsh Plumbing and Heating and the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, Collins said.
Donations can be made online here.