NORTH HAVEN — The community is going to be responsible for 2,000 smiles — or thereabouts — over and over again.
Firefighters and members of the community pitched in to buy toys for children and a caravan led by three antique fire trucks left from Montowese Volunteer Co. 2 Friday night to deliver them to the Toy Closet at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.
“It’s always overwhelming to see groups of individuals that collectively create something that’s bigger than just one person,” said Chris Dowling, chairwoman of the Toy Closet Committee, who accepted the donations.
Firefighters, representatives from North Haven Academy, a Paul Mitchell School, and others rode to the hospital and helped unload the panel truck that was filled to the brim with about 30 boxes of items suitable for those from infancy through 18 years old.
“From front to back, it’s packed solid,” said Montowese foreman Ray Prunier.
The haul included toys, games, dolls, electronics, MP3 players, DVDs, little digital camcorders and more, said Montowese firefighter Angel Sanjurjo, who organizes the drive for the North Haven Fire Department.
North Haven Academy students, North Haven Girl Scouts and volunteer firefighters collected donations outside of Stop & Stop, Big Lots, Sports Authority and Toys R Us and people also dropped off food and toy donations at headquarters company on Broadway.
Big Lots donated more than $6,000 in toys and about $2,000 in food. “We’ve only been open a year and we want to be involved in the community,” said manager Jeff Crewell.
The collection for the pediatric clinic at the Hospital of St. Raphael took place at J Roo’s restaurant and will be delivered Monday. Firefighters also conducted a food drive for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the proceeds of which went to the North Haven Congregational Church, Sanjurjo said.
“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s worth it. It’s a good cause and helps a lot of people in need,” said Sanjurjo.
“I look at this room and I see hundreds and hundreds of children who’ll get toys, thanks to the North Haven Fire Department. There are no ways to sufficiently thank them,” said Dowling, adding that toys are given out each day.
Holiday season donations help to sustain the Toy Closet throughout the year, she said.