HEARTWARMING: Polk boy donates birthday toys

Ethan at his birthday celebration.

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – By all accounts, 8-year-old Ethan Chapman had an awesome birthday.

He had a glow party at Skate World and received all the toys a kid could ever want.

Toys were, in fact, at the top of his list. But, they weren’t for him.

For his birthday, Ethan only asked for two things: the skating party and toys for other kids. “I have too many toys and stuffed animals,” Ethan said.

So he decided to give all of his birthday gifts to other children. “To kids in Lakeland. Kids that don’t have any toys,” he said.

Ethan’s mom isn’t surprised. “He has a big heart,” Ginne Chapman said.

Ethan proudly marched all of the toys into the Lakeland Police Department for their Cops For Kids toy drive.

“We were at the dry cleaners and saw a sign for cops for kids. He said, ‘I have so much stuff, and I don’t have a lot of room for things, so when I have my birthday party why don’t we collect stuff for cops for kids?'” Ginne Chapman recalled.

Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens was so impressed he gave Ethan a bag of goodies, including a Challenge Coin and his own badge.

“This makes you an official police officer with a Lakeland Police Department right there,” the chief said.

Ethan only had one request. “Can you please put the Paddington Bear and book together for a kid?” he asked the chief, who of course obliged.

Cops for Kids is in its 10th year. It’s a toy donation program that helps families give their children holiday presents. The program accepts toys for children up to 12 years of age. New, unwrapped toys can be taken to these locations.

  • Lakeland Police Station – 219 N. Massachusetts Ave.
  • Lakeland Libraries (Main & Jackson Branch) – 100 Lake Morton Dr. and 1700 N. Florida Ave.
  • City Hall – 228 S. Massachusetts Ave.
  • Lakeland Electric – 501 E Lemon St.
  • Kelly Recreation Complex – 404 Imperial Blvd.

The program also takes money. It can be mailed to the Lakeland Police Department at 219 N Massachusetts Ave. Send the money to the attention of the Crime Prevention Unit. Write Cops for Kids on the check or money order’s memo line.

“Over the past 10 years, our Cops for Kids program has helped ease the burden for hundreds of families and allowed thousands of children to have a happy holiday,” Giddens said. “One of the greatest things we can do as a police department is give back to our citizens in need, for whom we take great pride in serving every day.”

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