Fall River District Court Probation Officer Kicks Off 20th Annual Holiday Toy Give-Away For Underprivileged Children in Bristol County
When Michael Borden first became a probation officer at Fall River District Court 20 years ago, he was both surprised and saddened by the abject poverty he encountered when making home supervision visits to probationers during the holiday season. Borden found that many of the offenders’ children had no toys and lacked the bare necessities. It was this experience that moved him to begin the Fall River District Court Probation Toy drive.
Borden, with help from a local donor and Fall River District Court Police Officer, kicked off the 20th Annual Fall River Toy Give-Away this week. He and his helpers have collected nearly 4,000 toys, the largest to date he says. He and his helpers distribute a wide variety of toys—everything from Fisher Price playthings for infants and toddlers to board and computer games, dolls, balls, and bicycles— to more than 300 children. Each child, infant to 12 years old, will receive up to 10 toys a piece. The toy bounty was donated by Hasbro and donors.
“When I first started this drive, I found that there were children who did not have a bed to sleep in never mind a toy under a tree,” Borden said.
Borden’s toy drive is a year-round proposition. He collects toys, bikes, and games throughout the year, beginning the first day after Christmas. He stores them in his basement, from floor to ceiling. Borden has collaborated with local and social service agencies, and the YMCA to provide toys for children. Fall River Police accompany him each year when he delivers the toys to the children. There are toys at the Probation Department which are given to offenders for their children. Probation employees also clothe children with winter weather gear such as coats, hats, gloves, and boots.
In the past, Borden and his elves, volunteers from the court and community, have passed out nearly 10,000 toys to children and families in need each year.
“We will find a way to make Christmas a happy time for these children,” Borden said.