This month, if a St. Marys police officer catches a driver with a minor traffic violation, instead of a citation, an officer may hand the driver a card.
“Just kind of a courtesy card to say hey, we found you in violation of some motor vehicle law, but here’s an opportunity to make good by helping out the kids,” Chief Nicklas said.
The cards encourage drivers to drop off a toy to the police station in exchange for not getting a ticket.
All toys will go to Project Gifts for Elk County, which collects new toys for kids in need up to age 10.
Gifts for Elk County President Bob Roberts said the program was started by two policemen, and law enforcement have been involved ever since.
“It shows the children that policemen can be your friend, and that they’re a good person to go to in time of need too,” Roberts said.
This is the second year the department’s collecting toys.
The program will distribute gifts to more than 400 children in Elk County.
“Over 400 happy children that we’ve made Christmas for them, and the generosity of the community has helped provide that Christmas,” Roberts said.
While this drive is during the season of giving, Chief Nicklas said his officers want to give back year-round.
“They want to be doing more than just enforcing laws, they want to be a member of the community and do things for their community,” Chief Nicklas said. “It really makes me feel great.”
The department will be collecting gifts until November 20. There is no need to be pulled over to drop off toys at the police station.