Dec. 15, 2008

With Cornell's help, cops make sure children have toys

Jason Koski/University Photography
Alumni Affairs and Development's Marty Moses, left, and New York state trooper Joe Nelson pack gifts for Cops, Kids and Toys, Dec. 11 in Barton Hall.

Ensuring that every child in Tompkins County gets a toy for the holidays is a year-round effort for the large group of volunteers who are the force behind Cops, Kids and Toys.

Members of the Cornell and Tompkins County communities have been donating to the program by filling collection boxes that were put out in late October around the campus and county.

On Dec. 16, toys will be delivered to the homes of some 1,250 children throughout the county. Each child will receive a gift specific for his or her age and gender.

Cornell police officer George Sutfin, president of Cops, Kids and Toys, says there is a year-round community effort to get toys to kids whose families cannot afford them.

"Every police agency in Tompkins County and the county probation department are involved in getting the names of the children and in collecting toys and funds," he said. "We collect returnable bottles and cans at the Grassroots Festival and help out at the Cornell Dump and Run sale. Local businesses hold fundraisers for us, and many Cornell departments collect toys for this program every year."

Volunteers spend two days in Barton Hall sorting the toys and packing a bag for each child. Sutfin has been doing this for more than 25 years, and for him this is a labor of love.

"This program began in the 1980s when an Ithaca police officer became aware of a family in need at Christmas. His effort to help them has grown over the years into an effort that involves people across our community," Sutfin said.

To volunteer or receive further information about Cops, Kids and Toys, contact Sutfin at 255-7305 or e-mail: crime_prevention@cornell.edu.