Campus & community, Campus news

UC Berkeley police collect toys for Camp Fire survivors

By Will Kane

Alex Yao, UCPD captain, with toys, schools supplies headed for Butte County fire victims

Alex Yao, UCPD captain, checks toys and school supplies bound for Butte County fire victims.

UC Berkeley’s police department is collecting toys for children and teens who survived the Camp Fire but may have lost their homes or loved ones.

The toy collection program was the brainchild of Captain Alex Yao, who said that in the immediate aftermath of the fire he heard plenty of news reports about people donating essentials like coats and water to survivors, but little about the children who might have lost favorite toys or games. He knew how to help.

“I’m a parent of two kids, and this time of year is a big time for kids,” said Yao, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1999 and has been on the campus’s police force since 1995. “Imagine you were a parent who survived with your family but maybe lost your home. You have to budget your savings and figure out how you can rebuild. We want to take care of the gifts so they don’t have to worry about that.”

A man stands next to a box of toys under a police star

Yao has been with UCPD since 1995.

UC Berkeley will be collecting donations until Monday, December 17, Yao said. Police officers will then organize the toys and deliver them to Butte County school officials later that week.

Yao and his colleagues have already distributed some 80 donation boxes to 52 departments across campus. Patrol officers will collect toys and bring them to the police station as the boxes fill up, he said.

Staff and faculty interested in donating should contact their building coordinator to see if a box has been placed in their building, Yao said. Donors can also bring toys to the UCPD station in the basement of Sproul Hall. Police ask that toys be new, in their original packaging and unwrapped. Violent toys, video games, money and gift cards will not be accepted.

Alumni who want to donate can mail toys to the police department at: University of California Police Department, Berkeley, ATTN: CUBS Camp Fire Toy Donation, 1 Sproul Hall, MC #1199, Berkeley, CA 94720-1199. Donations must arrive by December 17.

More information and complete guidelines can be found on the UC Berkeley police department’s Facebook page .