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The City Journals

Police gather toys to help children during traumatic events

May 02, 2019 01:24PM ● By Josh Wood

From left to right: Jim Hawkins, Kathie Hawkins, Chief Russo and Mayor Peterson with toys donated to the Cottonwood Heights Police Department. (Joshua Wood, City Journals)

By Joshua Wood | [email protected]

On the day of the Cottonwood Heights Shakeout, a special way of dealing with emergencies was also on display. A community toy drive spearheaded by Kathie and Jim Hawkins culminated in the delivery of hundreds of stuffed animals to the Cottonwood Heights Police Department on April 13.

The police department will distribute the donated toys to officers and other first responders so they can hand them to children at the scenes of traumatic events.

“It’s great that people want to do that,” Assistant Chief of Police Paul Brenneman said. “When you have a trauma to a child, you need something to take their mind off of that trauma. Blankets and toys, those things seem to help us do that. It’s nice to have those resources available. We don’t have a budget to go out and buy those types of things. We think it’s a great idea."

Kathie and Jim Hawkins arrived at the police station during the Shakeout event. Kathie had just finished her rounds as block captain. The bed of their pickup truck was filled with large plastic bags full of stuffed animals.

“We had a good 50 families who either donated a stuffed animal or cash, and then we went to the store with it and bought some more,” Kathie said. “There were people that I don’t know who saw it in the newspaper. It wasn’t just my own little community and family. It was widespread. I was really happy about that.”

As the toys were piled onto a table, Kathie spoke with Police Chief Robby Russo and Mayor Mike Peterson about the difference that something simple like a toy can make to a child during a traumatic event.

“It could be domestic violence, it could be a car crash, the house could catch on fire, anything that no one wants to go through, let alone a little child,” Kathie said.

The project commemorated the anniversary of Jim and Kathie Hawkins Day on April 12, a day designated to honor their tremendous service to the community. “A bunch of the neighbors nominated her,” Jim said. “They brought me up with her and they called it Jim and Kathie Day, and I went no, no it’s Kathie Day. She helps all kinds of people, she really does.”

The Cottonwood Heights Police Department now has a large supply of toys for children in need, and the Hawkins family found yet another way to make a difference in the community. They have another year to decide on their next big April 12 service project.

“She kind of scares me sometimes when she comes up to me and says, ‘Hey I’ve got an idea,’” Jim said. “She’s amazing.”