Portsmouth Police cruisers filled with donated toys, other gifts

Drive held at Clements' Marketplace, Dollar General Saturday

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PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth Police Officer Jean Stewart had collected so many donated gifts that it didn’t look like she’d be able to fit them all in her cruiser. 

“I’m OK with that,” Officer Stewart said during the police department’s “Fill a Cruiser” Toy Drive, which was held at Clements’ Marketplace, Dollar General and the police station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Maddie Pirri, the department’s school resource officer, was in charge of the drive.

“We’re only doing it one day, but we’re having a great turnout,” said Officer Stewart as she stood outside her cruiser in front of Clements’. 

“We’re collecting nonperishable food items, toys, clothes and gift cards. It’s all going to those less fortunate in the area,” she said, adding that most gifts are being distributed to Portsmouth families. 

When one man stopped by to hand her a few dollar bills, Officer Stewart politely declined because no cash was being accepted.

“I apologize, but it’s the thought that counts,” she told him.

Clements’ and Dollar General were ideal places for the program because if shoppers didn’t already know about the drive, they could still donate something by purchasing it inside.

“A lot of people see it, they go in and they come out with stuff,” she said.

In addition to the toys, canned goods and gift cards that spilled over outside the back of the cruiser, there was also a lone bouquet of flowers — a gift from a grateful and gallant passerby.

“Some older gentleman gave them to me and said, ‘The soup’s for your program and the flowers are for you,’” Officer Stewart said.

“I put them on display.”

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