“Smaller is better” was the message of the day as Flossmoor police officers embarked on their third annual shopping spree for toys at the village’s Meijer store.
In past years, the men in women in blue shopped for big-ticket items, including bicycles, for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. This year, the word came down that smaller items were needed and there are already enough bikes to go around.
Meijer once again donated to the cause and contributed $3,000 for the shopping spree, which took place Dec. 14.
Nine members of the department — five patrol officers, two community service officers, Police Chief Michael Pulec and Deputy Chief Tod Kamleiter — were this year’s shoppers. That’s the biggest complement of officers to take part in the annual event.
Sgt. Clint Wagner, who once again organized the event, said that the shopping spree is treat for Flossmoor’s law enforcement officers law enforcement officers.
“We love doing it.” Wagner said. “It’s a good feeling to give back to the community.”
Wagner was asked if he’s learned anything about shopping for Toys for Tots in the last three years.
“I’ve learned that it’s really easy to work with Meijer,” he said. “We just let them know what we’d like to do and they set an amount that we can spend at the store.” The amount that Meijer can contribute is based on how many requests the company received each year, Wagner said.
Items purchased at the store will be taken to the Toys for Tots central receiving area in Chicago. From there, the toys will be distributed to charitable organizations around the Chicago area that will give them to children and families in need.
Each of the Flossmoor officers took a shopping cart and headed into the areas for toys and sporting goods. Within minutes, many were filled to the brim – the entire shopping trip took less than a half hour.
For patrol officer Daniel Weaver, it was his first Toys for Tots shopping expedition, which he started in the brightly-colored girls section.
“I have a 4-year-old girl of my own,” he said. “I’m trying to think of what she’d like. But it’s fun doing it for someone else’s child.”
Kamleiter said he was shopping for items for boys. His basket was filled with dozens of items.
“I have all girls,” he said, and has never had much of a chance to buy toys for boys.
Flossmoor police participated in Toys for Tots for one year before the Meijer store opened in 2016. During the first year of the toy drive, items were collected at the police station. The department has partnered with Coldwell Banker Real Estate on that portion of the toy drive every year since 2015.