Cherry Picker Major Draw For Toy Lift

By: Whitney Holmes Email
By: Whitney Holmes Email

December 8, 2006

The word 'toy' in the name Toy Lift, is self-explanatory, but what is the meaning of the word 'lift.' 'Lift' refers to the cherry picker, that founder Tom Powell says is responsible for making this event one of the biggest charity events in the area.

Powell said he has his kids to thank for the idea that has made the holidays happier for thousands of area kids.

"I was sitting around my gas station, complaining to my friend that my kids had toys from the previous Christmas that they hadn't even played with. And I said, there has to be a need for these toys," explained Powell.

So he came up with the idea to hold a toy drive, but he knew he needed a hook, something to draw people out to the event.

"So my friend said, sit on a flag pole or something," Powell remembered. "Or maybe the Exxon sign. I said, that thing's six inches wide, I'm not sitting on that."

Powell got a cherry picker from Virginia Power and vowed that he wouldn't come down until they collected 1,000 toys.

They did, and 18 successful years later, that goal has grown to 18,000 toys, along with 400 volunteers to help out.

Powell still remembers the old days, when he didn't have all this assistance.

"I went to deliver some toys with my truck, and a police officer stopped me and said, 'what are you doing?' I said, 'I'm delivering toys.' He said, 'No, you don't want to do that all by yourself around here," Powell recalled. "So he got some other officers and they helped me deliver toys."

Today, Powell still needs help from the police, but now its to help direct the traffic caused by all the people coming out to donate toys.

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