The Winter Park Police Department is encouraging residents to celebrate the season by supporting those in need with the Helping Others Holiday Drive.
According to Master Police Officer Liza Cieszynski, of the department’s Community Services Division, the program was enacted five years ago but is only part of a year-long community donation effort spearheaded by the department.
“We’ve always done some sort of donation event or drive, whether it be for victims of domestic violence, collecting supplies for shelters, or other needs,” she said.
WPPD partners with the Winter Park Housing Authority and the City of Winter Park to send collected items where they are most needed.
“We have at least four major properties within our jurisdiction and one in Orange County,” said Cieszynski. “We coordinate with the Housing Authority and the donations are spread out to the properties.”
Requests for toys are made during holiday drives but every donation program requires necessities including toiletries, everyday items, and food. “Everything from instant mashed potatoes, pastas, rice, all types of canned foods, just as long as it’s non-perishable,” adds Cieszynski. “Donations can be brought to the lobby of our station (500 N. Virginia Ave.) but if there are large donations I can make arrangements for a pickup.”
The need is serious but that doesn’t mean donors can’t have fun for a good cause. “Lakemont Elementary and Brookshire Elementary are having a friendly competition of who can collect the most food donations,” said Cieszynski. “The winner will get a pizza party.”
Donations must be received by Sunday, Dec. 18. For more information call the Winter Park Police Department at 407-599-3282, or phone officer Cieszynski at 407-599-3248.