TIGARD - A few holiday celebrations got a whole lot brighter on Tuesday.

American Legion Post 158 on Southwest Scoffins Street has long given baskets of toys and food to hundreds of needy families every winter, but after delivering 120 baskets this year to families across the area, the American Legion post had more to give.

'We probably had a couple hundred stuffed animals and about 16 frozen turkeys left,' said Mac McLaughlin, who helped organize the event. 'We were looking for agencies who might be able to use it.'

The Legion contacted Jim Wolf at the Tigard Police Department and asked if they could use some of the Legion's abundance for families in need.

'We said absolutely,' Wolf said. 'We had recently acquired three families who are underserved in Tigard. The department employees have been purchasing gifts, gift cards, food and were making arrangements for a delivery that day.'

Only two hours before the department planned to distribute its holiday gifts to the families, Wolf and two other officers went to the Legion's headquarters to collect their items as well. Wolf said he expected a small box to fit in the back of a squad car.

They left with two pickup trucks filled with toys and bicycles.

'It's wonderful,' Wolf said. 'There is this outpouring from the community. People have the idea that the police have a tremendous insight into what the pulse of the community is, and our officers are making contact with people year round and getting a better indication and an intimate knowledge of what is transpiring.'

Several of the items were quickly redistributed to the families, Wolf said, the rest will go to benefit Community Partners for Affordable Housing, which operates several low-cost apartment complexes in Tigard and Tualatin.

'The need is so great, and there is no way that we can reach out to everyone. But we know that (for) people who are assisted, it makes a big improvement and a difference in their lives,' Wolf said. 'It is amazing this time of year how many people are interested in helping out those less fortunate.'

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