By Karen Cortés
When Santa needs a hand in Hartford, he knows just who to call. In the days leading up to Christmas, Toys for Joy will once again provide holiday gifts for 150 needy Hartford families, delivering presents for children ranging in age from newborn to 13. Among Santa’s Toys for Joy helpers is Hartford Police Det. Marcos Massa Sr., who, along with more than 30 of his colleagues, is giving back to the community he serves.
Massa, who is assigned to the Juvenile Investigation Division, has been a Toys for Joy volunteer for five years. He is also vice president of the Hartford Hispanic Officers Association, which fosters relationships among its members, the department, the citizens of Hartford and the law enforcement community.
“As a police officer, we are most often called when something is wrong. Toys for Joy is an opportunity to do something positive,” says Massa. “I became a police officer to fight crime, but it’s important for me to give back. Volunteering for Toys for Joy is special for me because I grew up in this community. I understand what families are going through.”
Toys for Joy volunteers begin their work months before the holiday. Volunteer officers process applications for the program, collect toys and cash donations, and organize and package gifts, long before the first present is delivered.
“When kids see us in a positive light, they love it,” says Massa. Officers work in teams to deliver gifts to families. While they don’t have access to a sleigh, the Department Humvee is an equally thrilling sight for young Hartford residents.
To complete their collection efforts for this year’s Toys for Joy, officers will volunteer their time at stuff-a-cruiser events to be held outside the Walmart on Flatbush Avenue in Hartford on Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 8-9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Toys for Joy is a collaborative effort among the Hispanic Officers Association, the Hartford Guardians, a fellowship and professional enrichment organization of Black police officers, the Hartford Police Union, and a host of area business organizations.
People who are interested can send donations by making checks payable to: The Hartford Guardians, Inc., c/o Hartford Police Department, 50 Jennings Road, Hartford, CT 06120.
By Karen Cortés