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VIRGINIA - People passing by McDonald's this weekend could not help but notice a strange scene.
Police, fire and emergency personnel from Gilbert and Virginia set up shop for the weekend and asked the community to help "stuff the ambulance" with toys for children in need and in shelters in the local area.
"When I was young I was in a children's home for two and a half years," Officer Hal Henning from the Gilbert Police Department said.
Henning started brainstorming with the police chief and within three days the event was up and running.
What happened afterwards continued to amaze them.
"I can say that we have exceeded any expectation we had beyond our wildest dreams," Henning said. "I mean we've got over right now at least twelve to fifteen thousand dollars in toys."
Whether it was in a car or a front-loader, neighbors of all ages stopped by to keep the piles growing.
"We had I think a five or six-year-old the other day brought $1.55 from his piggy bank to give to us," Henning said. "I had an elderly man in tears the other day that he couldn't believe the out-pouring of what was coming."
The location for the drive could not be better; sandwiched between two of the area's biggest stores.
And, for each present dropped off, a little generosity was passed back in the form of a Happy Meal or coffee coupon.
"We understand that at this time of the year, families in the area, it's a hard time for families and children," Alicia Wolff from the Virginia McDonald's said.
And whether it was people from McDonald's, the police, or fire departments, they said they were not the ones to thank; but rather, their neighbors who have shown a giving holiday spirit no one could imagine.
"It's the people of this community that have come forward and given with all their heart," Henning said. "I knew there was good out there, but you know you always hope and it's just been a very eye opening and very humbling."
1,300 toys were donated by the end of the three-day drive along with more than $900 in cash donations.
The donations totaled an estimated value of $16,500.