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Public Safety toy-collection drive underway

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The Georgia Department of Public Safety has begun its annual collection of toys for needy children, according to the director of public information for the department.

Gordy Wright said because the holiday season is near, the department is already accepting donations for the 2010 U.S. Marine Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

According to Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, the agency's motor carrier compliance division, Georgia State Troopers and Capitol Police officers, have partnered with the Marine Corps Reserve in this effort.

"Many of our department members have served in the Marine Corps, including myself, the deputy commissioner, and the commanding officer of the Georgia State Patrol Division, and we know, firsthand, the impact Toys for Tots has on helping others," said Hitchens, in a prepared statement.

According to Wright, collection boxes are located at the 48 State Patrol posts across Georgia, including Post 47, located at 5036 State Route 85, in Forest Park, and Post 48, at 3993 Aviation Circle, in Atlanta. Both posts serve Clayton County. He said that Post 1, at 1313 Arthur K. Bolton Parkway, in Griffin, serves Henry County.

This is the second year all of the State Patrol posts are participating in the program, he added. "We have had some of the GSP [Georgia State Patrol] posts across the state assist in previous years, but this is the second year that all posts are involved," Wright said.

Individuals are able to drop off new and unwrapped toys, until Dec. 10, Mondays, through Fridays, from 9 a.m., to 4 p.m., he said.

"GSP is participating because Toys for Tots makes a difference in a child's life by providing toys to children who might not otherwise get anything for Christmas," said the spokesman.

Other drop-off locations include the lobby of the Georgia Department of Public Safety Headquarters, 959 E. Confederate Ave., in Atlanta; and the Capitol Police Services Office, at 130 Memorial Drive, in Atlanta, according to Wright.

"The toys being collected are for toddlers, to teens ... They must be new and unwrapped," he said.

Wright said after the collection period is over, the toys will be transported to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots warehouse, for distribution. The warehouse houses other toy collections from organizations and businesses, he added.

Wright said, in 2009, the Department's headquarters and posts collected 5,273 toys, as well as, $1,195 in monetary donations.

For more Georgia State Patrol locations, visit, http://dps.georgia.gov.