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Nov 20

A: When it’s part of the first-ever Cram the Cruiser Toy Drive on Dec. 2!

Posted on November 20, 2023 at 10:08 AM by Becky Burnside

By David Markham

A fun new special event making its debut in early December gives Johnson County Park Police an opportunity to serve in a different way, and the public is invited to help!

Cram the Cruiser is a holiday-themed toy drive which will take place in two JCPRD parks on Dec. 2 and will benefit Children’s Mercy Hospital’s Snowflake Shoppe, which allows parents and caregivers to select gifts for children in the hospital, and their family members, at no cost, all without leaving the building.  

“The Johnson County Park Police are always trying to find a way to help the community they serve,” said Park Police Sergeant James Ward, who has been spearheading this effort. “This is a unique way that we can help in a way that does not involve an enforcement action; a way that the department can bring happiness to the people they serve when they need it the most.” 

James Ward and Santa in front of the park police cruiserThe event will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the John Barkley Plaza near the entrance to Shawnee Mission Park at 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa, and from 2 to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse, 9101 Nall Avenue, Prairie Village. Santa will be onsite at both locations to greet visitors, give them a look at the inside of the cruiser, and he’ll even have a special gift for participants!

“The premise is that people from the community can bring donations and place them into the patrol cruiser in an attempt to fill the cruiser up,” Ward said. “Park police will set up a patrol cruiser in Shawnee Mission Park and Meadowbrook Park with multiple officers to meet with park patrons as they bring in new toys to place into the cruiser. The toys will then be donated to Children’s Mercy Hospital where they will be placed into their Snowflake Shoppe where parents can select toys for their kids who are dealing with medical conditions over the holiday season.”

The event seeks to collect new, unwrapped items to provide play experiences and comfort to patients and their siblings throughout the year. And while Cram the Cruiser is being called a toy drive, a number of other items are being sought as well, including clothing items, art supplies, games, and comfort and distraction items. For a full list of Children’s Mercy’s current donation needs, go to JCPRD.com/1978/Cram-the-Cruiser.

For those who are unable to attend Cram the Cruiser at either location on Dec. 2 but still want to participate, donations of toys and other sought items will be accepted through regular business hours on Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Administration Building in Shawnee Mission Park or inside the Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse.   

Sergeant Ward said he has been working on this event for about a year. 

“I thought it was a great way that a department like ours can help the community,” he said. “I am hoping this will be an annual event and hope that the park police can use this as motivation to start new ways to help the Johnson County Community in the future.”  

For more information about Cram the Cruiser, visit JCPRD.com/1978/Cram-the-Cruiser