This past December, Sam Pack Five Star Ford hosted its second annual Denton County 1st Responder Toy Drop. Their efforts, along with the help of the LISD Angel Tree program and the generosity of donors, saw enough toys to fill 15 police cars, two police trucks, and a Big Red truck, plus around one hundred bicycles were donated to Denton County families. Sam Pack Five Star Ford was keen to get involved in a toy drive due to its enormous impact on local families during the holiday season. Toy drives remove the burden of guilt that impoverished families may feel when their children don’t receive gifts from Santa.
The idea for a toy drive was initiated in 2021 after a random conversation between Sue Bowman and Chief Reim about doing an event together. After two weeks of throwing around ideas, they agreed upon a toy drive.
The Sam Pack team and Chief Reim joined forces to set up a “drive-thru” toy drive to scout local police departments for volunteers and to get the word out. Officer David Harney of Highland Village jumped in and became a key player in gathering toys and making arrangements to bring the toys to the LISD Angel Tree. And Sue created videos for social media, captioned, “Bring a toy and visit your favorite first responder” to encourage more people to donate.
Together, Sue, Officer David, and Chief Reim recruited 13 police departments, 3 Fire Departments, and 3 Texas State Tropper Departments to participate. From 4-7 pm, the community could drive through the front lot of the dealership, and first responders would help unload the toys, all while the donor could stay in the comfort of their vehicle. “We lined up the police vehicles up on our front row and turned the lights on – it was quite the sight to see – we even stopped traffic on I35! Sue and Chief Reim were so pleased with the toy drive’s success that, in 2022, they didn’t want to change a single thing about it – with the exception of making it even bigger!
In 2022, 16 Police Departments, 5 Texas State Trooper Departments, 4 Fire Departments, 3 Walmarts, and 2 Police Dogs (and partridge in a pear tree) participated in the Denton County 1st Responder Toy Drop. Police departments from as far north as Pilot Point and Elm Ridge and as far west as Roanoke traveled to Lewisville to participate in the festivities. “Larry Modesto from Highland Village Walmart heard about our Toy Drive and wanted to help so he arranged for 3 Walmart stores to provide food for the 1st Responders during the Toy Drive. We had to add tables inside for all the food and snacks. It was unbelievable.” said Sue.
Even local dignitaries, State Senator Tan Parker, Flower Mound Mayor Derek France, Flower Mound City Councilman Shawn Nelson, Highland Village Mayor Dan Jaworski, Multiple Area Police Chiefs and Local Chamber presidents, Lori Walker of Flower Mound Chamber and Lori Fickling of Lewisville Chamber of Commerce joined in unloading the toys. “My good friends at Kona Ice donated hot chocolate, and since we’re in Texas, they had snow cones as well!” raved Sue. But it didn’t end there… “Cindi Ali with Mobile Billboards heard about our event and came up with the fabulous idea to drive around Flower Mound and Lewisville advertising our toy drive.” And David Elliot made the amazing giant banner for us to put on our building! But it STILL didn’t end there! David Hodges of DH Productions wanted to help too. He showed up to the toy drive and played Christmas music, made announcements, and ensured everyone had a great overall experience.
When we asked Chief Reim, Officer Harney, Officer Reyna, and Sue what their favorite part was, they said it was the surprise appearance from Sue’s friend, Victor. They started hearing Christmas music coming from the distance. It started getting louder and louder, and then, out of nowhere, a BIG Christmas RED box truck playing Christmas tunes pulled into the dealership’s driveway. They glanced at each other with expressions that read, “Which one of you invited this guy?” “Wasn’t me!” Surprised as ever, they curiously looked to the truck, and out popped Victor! He stepped unhatched the back and revealed the entire box was stacked with bicycles! “It was a Christmas Miracle!”
Their second favorite memory is when they personally delivered the toys to the LISD Angel Tree. Officer Reyna arranged for traffic control and organized all of the vehicles – 15 police cruisers, plus 1 Big Red truck and a mobile billboard – to line up and head to the tree ceremony. “We went in a caravan down I35 to Next Steps, where the LISD Angel Tree was. Lights flashing, sirens going. I rode with Officer Reyna, and the excitement was more than I could imagine.
Allison Stamey, LISD Angel Tree Coordinator, said that she had 600 families left to fill and our donations helped provide for those families. Allison said that she and the LISD high school students watching the caravan of police vehicles pull into the Next Step center with lights and sirens flashing reassured them “Something Positive” was about to happen.” Allison said it was beautiful seeing all the police departments and community, with the help of Sam Pack Five Star Ford of Lewisville, come together for a collective purpose.
This year was Sam Pack’s second successful Denton County 1st Responder Toy Drop, and its success has solidified plans to continue this tradition for many more years.
“We can’t do it all by ourselves, but we together we can make a difference.”