Oxford town official Anna Silva Rycenga was a child when her parents divorced. Her father didn't pay child support, she recalls, and her mother worked two full-time jobs to make ends meet.
That first Christmas in a single-parent home was going to be difficult, for sure. But it was made brighter by donations from the community and the thoughtfulness of the police officers and state troopers stationed at the Oxford Resident Trooper's Office.
"When I saw that state trooper drive up the road and bring us toys, I was so excited," said Rycenga, who is now the town's zoning enforcement officer. "I almost started crying."
Rycenga remembers former Trooper Rich "Dicky" Connors bringing the toys, and she thinks of that every year when she helps Oxford resident troopers and police with their annual toy drive. Rycenga, who now has two children of her own, told that story on Thursday when she helped police and local volunteers fill dozens of garbage bags with hundreds of new, unwrapped toys donated by people in the community. She knows that while Oxford is considered an upscale community, there are many people who are "working poor" and some who come from single-parent homes on fixed incomes.
Rycenga had help filling the bags Thursday by Oxford Board of Education Chairwoman Paula Guillet, local nurse Lindsey Hellauer, Resident Trooper First Class Dave Hare and Resident Trooper Sgt. Dan Semosky.
Semosky said the toy drive is an annual event - it's part of the state police toy drive - and that hundreds, if not thousands, of toys are collected annually in Oxford.
"People here are very generous," he said. "It should be a nice holiday for many local children."