LAUGHLIN — The parade of trucks, trailers and motorcycles left Bullhead City Fire Station 2 the morning of Dec. 15 and didn’t make it back until late afternoon. The group included members of the Men of Fire Motorcycle Club NW Arizona Chapter 6, volunteers and the 1938 Ford firetruck.
It didn’t take long to fill up the various trucks and trailers with toys as members of the Bullhead City Fire Department, along with several volunteers, made stops in Laughlin and Bullhead City collecting donations for the annual Firefighters Holiday Toy Drive.
The day ended with the group going to what is called the “toy shop” and unloading all the merchandise to be organized and readied for families to pick up at a later date. Again, the volunteers mustered their energy to unload all the items donated and preorganized them by putting them together by category — bicycles, books, games, dolls, stuff animals and more.
The group started their day in Laughlin. They traveled along Casino Drive stopping to talk with and pick up donations of toys, bikes and checks that help support the long standing program. They made stops at Harrah’s Laughlin, Golden Nugget Laughlin, Tropicana Laughlin, Colorado Belle/Edgewater and the Aquarius Casino Resort before heading into Bullhead City.
Capt. Jeff Jackson said the toy drive currently helps support anywhere between 1,000 and 1,200 children. Of those, about 150 children are from Laughlin and seven from Searchlight. The remainder is split between Bullhead City, Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley, Lake Havasu City and other neighboring towns and cities, he added.
Capt. Jeff Jackson said they get toys to approximately 1,000 to 1,200 children each year. About $100 is spent on each child, meaning about $100,000 is raised in toys and monetary donations, he added
While toys and other items are the focus of the toy sometimes there is a need to shop for items that are more appropriate for older children, Jackson said. That’s where the monetary donations come to play. Both Tropicana Laughlin and Western Area Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City gave check donations to the toy drive. Tropicana donated more than $3,000 and WARMC donated $800.
Jackson said the toy drive focuses on younger children but there are times when there are older siblings and organizers never want to leave anyone out of getting something. That means needing to have items that are age appropriate, he continued.
The goal is always to ensure children in the Tri-state area have a Christmas, Jackson said. The next step is to get those donations in the hands of the families who need them. Two days are spent allowing families to “shop” and pick up the sorted items. That was planned for Thursday and Friday of this week.