Stuff-a-Cruiser effort collects more than 3,000 toys for R.I. based charities

KINGSTON, R.I. — Dec. 20, 2019 — URI police officers didn’t mind being out in the cold during a recent weekend at the Walmart in North Kingstown as part of their annual Stuff-a-Cruiser toy drive.

That’s because the generosity and smiles of strangers put them in a great holiday mood.

Again this year, the toy drive was a big success as the URI police force collected more than 3,000 unwrapped toys, as well as a variety of other necessities such as winter clothing, bath products and food.

URI Police Sgt. Erica Vieira coordinates the drive that also involves several other officers. Vieira contacts homeless shelters across Rhode Island in the weeks prior to the toy drive to get a better understanding of what local families need. The homeless shelters provide all of the particulars about the children in their care, as well as tips about the items they may need, such as toiletries.

URI Police Sgt. Erica Vieira (far left) and URI Police Det. Mark Brasil (far right) delivering toys to Children’s Friend & Service, a Providence-based charity that provides child welfare and early childhood services for Rhode Island’s most vulnerable and at-risk children. Photo courtesy of Sgt. Erica Vieira.

Vieira then creates individual slips of paper outlining each family’s requests, which allows individuals to shop for one collective family in need.

As in previous years, Vieira donated her time to sort the toys, making sure that the shelters have received everything they asked for. After that, URI officers distribute the toys to the various charities and shelters across the state.

The toy drive supports these local charities: Children’s Friends out of Providence, the Providence Center, Olean Center in Westerly, Welcome House of Wakefield, and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

“This is our fifth year collecting toys, clothing and essentials for shelters across the state, as well as Hasbro Children’s Hospital,” said Vieira. “Each year the wish lists from the shelters get longer, but thanks to the kindness of Rhode Island residents we manage to provide for everyone’s requests. It warms our hearts to know that we not only have helped put a smile on a child’s face when they open their gifts on Christmas morning, but we feel content knowing that they also received some essential items such as a new coat or boots to get them through the winter. Thank you to everyone who donated, as each of you really do make a huge difference in so many less fortunate people’s lives.”

Lauren Poirier, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations and English major, wrote this press release.