ALPENA - Michigan State Police troopers were overwhelmed by the public's response when they asked residents to help them fill four patrol cars with food and gifts during a weekend charity drive, an official said Tuesday.
Shoppers at Neiman's Family Market and Kmart loaded two blue cars and two patrol SUVs Saturday with 1,342 donated food items and 967 toys, First Lt. Mike Hahn, commander of the Alpena post, said. The nine-hour effort in biting cold was the first time the Stuff a Blue Goose campaign has been held in the city.
"They filled them from the floor and the seats to the roof," Hahn said. "The only room left was the driver's seat."
Hahn credited Alpena residents "for being so generous. It's really going to make a meaningful impact on a lot of lives."
The vehicles were then driven to the nearby Vietnam Veterans of America wrapping and distribution facility.
Operation Holidays spokeswoman Tammy Kish said her volunteers unloaded eight shopping carts full of food from the patrol cars. A bicycle also had been stuffed into one of the vehicles.
"We thought 'wow,' she said. "We were really shocked. They were just jam packed full. I bet there are well over $5,000 worth of toys."
Kish said the organization still has 450 families it is packing Christmas gifts for. Other donated toys included fuzzy blankets, bath gift sets, CD players, make-up kits, dolls, trucks and lots of games.
The food will go to veterans in need, she said.
In addition to the blue goose campaign, Kish said Community Service Trooper Ashley Simpson also supervised a cash donations collection and bought additional gifts for the drive.
The Operation Holiday boxes will be distributed to families this weekend, Kish said.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.