Appleton Parks and Police Departments team up for new ‘Toy Ride Along’ program

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 4:05 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Appleton Police Department recently got a lot of “new recruits” - at least temporarily. A “Toy Ride Along” program is being held in lieu of the department’s usual in-person events.

“It’s been a blast,” said Appleton Police Officer Meghan Cash.

The Appleton Parks and Police Departments teamed up for the new program.

“We’ve been missing seeing all of our community members at our usual events, so we jumped on board and the toy ride along came to fruition,” said Cash.

Cash says 52 toys were sent in by kids so they could spend the week with the department.

“It’s been quite the undertaking to make sure each toy gets to have fun times while they’re here, but it’s been a cool challenge for us to figure out what would be the coolest thing about our job that a kid maybe wants to see,” said Cash.

The stuffed animals have done ride-alongs, helped with patrols, and even gotten advice from the chief.

“I think an unexpected excitement for a lot of our officers to be able to take a friend with them for their shift and see what kind of adventures they can go on,” said Cash.

That excitement extends to the kids, who’ve been keeping up with their friends’ adventures through social media.

“He was at a gym and I got a picture of him with the other stuffed animals,” said 6-year-old Jaxon Waterstradt.

“It makes me so happy,” said 12-year-old Liz Hoffman.

It’s made officers really happy, too.

“We love it. I have toys on my desk. It’s probably one of the best weeks that I could have ever had at work,” said Cash. “I never thought that I’d be able to play with toys while I’m at work, but going on adventures with them and having them throughout our day has been an amazing experience.”

Cash believes this has been a great way to interact with their community.

“I think the kid at heart sees, you know, seeing their toys on our page and what are they doing and just the experience of seeing what we do on a daily basis, but in a unique way,” said Cash.

Some kids were a little apprehensive to part with their favorite toys but overall trusted police to keep them safe.

“I’ve never sent on of mine on a trip before, so I was going to choose a small one,” said Jaxon.

“You can tell they’re very well-loved toys, and toys that I know a lot of the kids just had probably a hard time parting with, but we’re happy that we can take care of them and get them back to them,” said Cash.

Each kid will get their toys back after a week, with pictures of some of the adventure their friends took.

Cash is thankful for the Parks Department’s help with organizing the program. She hopes to do it again in the future.

You can see photos from the program on the Appleton Police Department Facebook page.

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