Dec. 8, 2006 -- Volunteers at the University have contributed about 300 toys to the annual Charlottesville Toy Lift this year.
Toy Lift, founded in 1988 by local business owner Tom Powell, is operated by the Kids Lift Foundation, serving children up to 13 years old in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson counties. Area schools provide the referrals.
Scott Hawkins, the animal control officer for the University Police Department, said he had collection points at the University Police Department, the Medical Center and Madison Hall, and also received individual donations from family and friends. More than 17,000 toys have been collected from throughout the region, Hawkins said.
The toys collected at the University were brought to Fashion Square Mall on Friday morning, where they were placed with toy donations from around the region. Thanks to these donations, about 2,600 families will receive Christmas gifts this year, Hawkins said.
“I got involved with this because I know it’s local, and I understand what it’s like to get nothing for Christmas,” Hawkins said. “I started [volunteering for this] so there would be toys under the Christmas trees for some of the area children.”
A Toy Lift volunteer for four years, Hawkins is currently tent manager, overseeing the volunteers at the collection tent at the shopping center.
Powell generated publicity for the first Toy lift by perching 80 feet in the air on the arm of a bucket truck. Eighteen years later, Toy Lift has grown into a huge annual community event with food, entertainment and media coverage, collecting more than 17,000 toys. The entertainment on Friday begins at 10 a.m. at the mall and concludes with a performance by Abbey Road, a local Beatles cover band, that starts at 7:30 p.m. Throughout the day, Hawkins said there would be plenty of local media personalities on hand, too. But you might need to look up to see them. Like Powell, they will take turns being carried up in the air on the arm of a bucket truck.
For more information about the Toy Lift including its donors and schedule, visit http://avenue.org/kids/toylift.htm