Campus News

Help UK Police 'Cram the Cruiser' in Holiday Toy Drive for KCH

Photo of Officer Michael Culver, K-9 Hudson and Officer Ryan Johnson in front of the cruiser with a banner that says "Cram the Cruiser" toy drive.
Officer Michael Culver with K-9 Hudson, left, and Officer Ryan Johnson in front of the police cruiser the UK Police Department hopes to cram full of toys for patients at Kentucky Children's Hospital. Photo submitted.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 20, 2019) Want to help the University of Kentucky Police Department make the holidays brighter for hospitalized children? You can help “Cram the Cruiser” — UKPD’s toy drive for UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) — this holiday season. 

From now until Dec. 13, new, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the UK Police Department Headquarters at the corner of Rose Street and Euclid Avenue on campus. UK Police hope to cram a cruiser full of new toys. The vehicle is parked in front of the UK Police Headquarters building now. 

Toys and books for children of ages infants up to teens will be accepted. Items must comply with infection control and safety standards. Here is a link to the KCH wish list of acceptable items by age: https://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/kentucky-childrens-hospital/donations/wishlist.

'We invite the UK and Lexington communities to help us make the holiday season a little happier for children who are in the hospital and away from their homes,” UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said. “In UKPD’s long tradition of charitable giving and fundraising, this is a special event to us because it makes a difference for children.”

Delivering the toys to the children's hospital is so special for Monroe, he trades his police uniform for a full-blown Santa Claus suit. He even sports a full gray beard after participating in No Shave November fundraising.

“Chief Monroe and UKPD have been incredible partners, both on campus and in the community," said Jennifer Guilliams, Child Life coordinator at KCH. "The toys they collect will go a long way in making the holidays a little brighter for our patients.”

This is the third year UK Police have conducted a toy drive, and the second year it has been called the Cram the Cruiser toy drive. Last year, the collection resulted in so many toys, UK Police almost needed to add a second cruiser to hold them all — a situation they would love to have this year.

Important partners in the toy drive are the family of Jonathan Ard and 3M company of Cynthiana. Ard, who was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army and served two tours of duty in Iraq before returning to Kentucky and working as an engineer at 3M, died of leukemia in 2016. His family and 3M employees participate in the toy drive effort in his honor and join UK Police to deliver the items to Kentucky Children's Hospital.

As an alternative to donating toys, gift card or monetary donations can also be made to the KCH Child Life Department. Gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, Target, iTunes, Google Play, movie theaters and other child-friendly stores can be donated, and monetary donations can be made online at https://uky.networkforgood.com/causes/5413-child-life-program-gift-fund.

Additionally, UK Police will donate the majority of the proceeds from their No Shave November fundraiser to the Kentucky Children's Hospital Toy Drive. From October until the end of January, Chief Monroe allows exemptions from the strict professional appearance standards for a $25 per month donation toward the No Shave November fundraiser. To date, 74 police and security officers have taken advantage of the rare opportunity to ditch their razors or polish their nails and have raised $4,365 collectively. Since UK Police started participating in No Shave November, a large portion of their fundraising proceeds have gone toward cancer research or toys for the KCH toy drive, with a secondary portion to the UKPD Scholarship Fund.

For more information contact Mandi Banahan at 859-218-2338 or mandi.banahan@uky.edu.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.