Orange, Athol public safety officials partner on Cram-A-Cruiser toy drive

  • An Orange Police cruiser was filled with gifts donated during the 2021 Cram-A-Cruiser toy drive put on through a collaboration between the Athol Police and Fire departments and the Orange Police Department. This year’s event will be held on Saturday at the Market Basket in Athol from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. COURTESY PHOTO/ATHOL POLICE DEPARTMENT

  • Last year’s Cram-A-Cruiser toy drive, put on through a collaboration between the Athol Police and Fire departments and the Orange Police Department, was considered a huge success. This year’s event — the fourth one — will be held on Saturday at the Market Basket in Athol from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. COURTESY PHOTO/ATHOL POLICE DEPARTMENT

  • Last year’s Cram-A-Cruiser toy drive, put on through a collaboration between the Athol Police and Fire departments and the Orange Police Department, was considered a huge success. This year’s event — the fourth one — will be held on Saturday at the Market Basket in Athol from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. COURTESY PHOTO/ATHOL POLICE DEPARTMENT

Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2022 1:58:50 PM
Modified: 12/2/2022 1:58:37 PM

ATHOL — The area’s public safety departments are gearing up for the 2022 Cram-A-Cruiser toy drive outside Market Basket on Saturday.

The Athol Police and Fire departments are collaborating with the Orange Police Department for the fourth installment of the event to help provide holiday gifts to local children. The departments will convene outside the supermarket in North Quabbin Commons from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., helping donors fill cruisers with presents.

“The first year in Athol was 2019. This is year four,” said Athol Police Officer Courtney Call, who spearheads this event after having participated in similar efforts in the two previous departments she worked for. “We threw it together pretty quickly that (first) year and we just kept going every year since then. It’s just kind of our way of giving back.”

Santa Claus has been known to make an appearance and Call said there might also be a couple of state troopers on horseback. The event will be held rain or shine.

Call explained donors can place gift donations into a cruiser and the presents will be transferred to a trailer when the cruiser gets crammed. That first year, Call said, no one knew trailers would be needed, meaning four or five trips back to the Athol Police Department were required to unload gifts to make room. She said cash donations are also accepted.

Athol Fire Capt. Kevin Kaczmarczyk said the departments work with local charities and nonprofits to distribute the gifts to children in need. All extra presents are donated to Shriners Children’s New England in Springfield.

“It’s just taken off like wildfire. Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Kaczmarczyk said over the phone while at the Athol Police Department helping Call hammer out the final details for the Cram-A-Cruiser event. “The community’s been fantastic, with the outpouring of support.”

Orange Police Chief James Sullivan said his department volunteers because there is no reason not to.

“It’s a great cause,” Sullivan said. “It’s a great community event and we just wanted to be a part of it.”

Call said the event was held even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, though “we did it COVID-style,” with safety measures in place.

Call mentioned people can also drop off gifts at donation boxes located in the lobbies of the Athol Police and Fire stations, the Orange Police Station and Athol Town Hall.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.


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