Operation Toy Lift is back for another year of giving

Countdown To Christmas
December 25 2021 12:00 am

WHEELING W.Va. (WTRF) – Law enforcement in two counties are teaming up—with their goal to help children have a holiday season worth remembering.

A couple thousand toys were gathered just last year at the annual Operation Toy Lift event held by the Wheeling Police department and the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office.  

Chief Shawn Schwertfeger with the Wheeling Police Department says he expects this year’s numbers to grow even higher.  

I previously worked in the state of Virginia in the Charlottesville area and the toy lift there had been going on for many years. It’s a huge operation, even larger than this one, but it’s a great idea. 

I bought it up with Chief Lucas and his staff, along with the United Way, AEP, and others initially and the concept was bought in to right away. We went to work and five years ago it was our first one and it’s been very successful ever since.

Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, Wheeling Police Department

The United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley manages the distribution of the items collected. They go to Monroe, Belmont, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, and Wetzel County. 

Chief Schwertfeger says a big-ticket item for younger kids is a bicycle, however they need items for all ages.  

We really except anything. There is a need for books, teddy bears, games, boardgames, and then again bicycles. Sporting equipment is always a popular one as well, any of that and again money. 

The money is really helpful because it’s used to buy clothes for some of the older children and the United Way once again supervises that and they have a great team to distribute all of that. We do have quit a few young people in need you know, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen years old

Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, Wheeling Police Department

Chief Schwertfeger says all the school distracts in those counties have been invited to participate in a challenge. Whichever school district raises the most money towards toy lift will win a trophy and be represented on the day of the event. 

Chief Deputy James Zusack with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office says he has one memory stood out to him.  

I think one lady one time brought her whole doll collection that she had. I thought it was very pricy, but she said she’d rather give it to the kid that needed them than her having them. 

What I do see is a lot of joy when people do drop off toys. You know the saying, ‘better give than receive.’ I think giving it makes people happy. It makes them feel good. It makes everyone feel good, it’s a feel-good experience to be a part of this event. I hope it’s a big success this year.

Chief Deputy James Zusack with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office

Chief Schwertfeger says he remembers one instance where he received a voicemail. The woman was speaking through tears. 

Thanking me, thanking the Wheeling Police and the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department and many others for this.

She was very descriptive of all the children, and I think this was in Brooke County that received a Christmas that they normally wouldn’t have received.

This was a service provider who is used to working with families in need who was still brought to tears just as a result of what we were doing but more importantly the community’s giving.

Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, Wheeling Police Department

They ask everyone to get involved to donate and show the community the true meaning of Christmas.  WTRF is a proud sponsor of this event, which takes place on December 11 at the Ohio Valley Mall.  

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