An 8-year-old boy donated 165 toys to the Ludlow Police Department’s annual holiday toy drive, making sure local children in need wake up Christmas morning to presents under their trees.
“I’m happy,” third-grader Braxton Gillespie, who solicited donations by posting copies of a hand-drawn flyer across town, said Friday night. “I just get to help people that don’t have stuff.”
The department’s toy drive tends to run down to the wire, Chief Scott Smith said Friday night. Officers spend the early winter reaching out to local schools and identifying around 30 families that need extra help to fill out their Christmas lists, but there are always late entries.
“Every year, a couple days before (Christmas), we always get some surprise families added to the list, and we always scramble,” Smith said. “Generally, the officers pay for gifts out of their pockets, so you get one guy going to buy three or four basketballs. We spend our own money to get it done.”
Braxton’s donation ensures that won’t happen this year.
He said he was inspired by a YouTube video about giving. His method for collecting the toys was simple. He drew a flyer reading I’m helping the Ludlow Police Department. I want to fill my mom’s van with toys to help kids to have a merry Christmas. #BraxtonMission #SpreadingCheer Thanks. He posted it around town, asking friends and family for help in the process.
The donations rolled in, and the police department was stunned.
“This little boy really kind of brings joy because he’s a sweet kid, and he’s doing it all on his own,” Smith said. “He was raised right.”
Braxton hopes to donate twice as many toys in 2020.