Film Industry Donation Creates Toy Drive For Needy Worcester Kids

The event is an effort between Westerman’s Prop House, the makers of a new movie, and local agencies to make Christmas special for 500 kids.

By Jeff Arnold | The | December 14, 2020

Westerman’s Restaurant Supply and Prop Shop will host a socially distanced toy drive following a donation of two truckloads of toys following the filming of a movie locally. (Photo courtesy of Dan Diaz)

WORCESTER, MA — Westerman’s Restaurant Equipment and Prop House is no stranger to storing large amounts of movie props once production of motion pictures that are filmed across Massachusetts wraps.

But when the makers of a new movie entitled “Black Friday” was looking for a place to donate items used in a scenes involving a toy store, a collaborative effort began between the family-owned Worcester warehouse and local agencies that will provide Christmas gifts for hundreds of needy children.

Westerman’s will host a socially-distanced toy drive for local kids on Saturday after partnering with the Worcester Police Department, Veterans Inc. and a couple of other local agencies, which has provided Westerman’s with the names of 500 children who will participate in Saturday’s toy drive. The effort is the first of its kind for Westerman’s manager Dan Diaz, who said Monday that he has been working with the Massachusetts Film Office and producers of “Black Friday” to organize the toy donation.

More than 500 local children will participate in a toy drive that came about following the donation of two truckloads of toys to Westerman’s in Worcester. (Photo courtesy of Dan Diaz)

In the past, Westerman’s has donated clothing and other items used in local film productions to area battered women’s shelters and other organizations that help the needy. But when the makers of “Black Friday” were looking for a good cause to donate toys used in the film, Saturday’s toy drive began to take shape, Diaz said.

“It’s been a hard year for a lot of people so this year, if we have anything that we can use to help, we absolutely will,” Diaz told Patch on Monday. “We’ll do the best that we can.”

Diaz said that the store received two truckloads of toys from the film production company. Items include stuffed animals, board games, small inflatable toys and puzzles. There are a few “big ticket items” that Diaz said that will likely up going to a place like Sherry’s House, where the toys can be used repeatedly by multiple children.

But the remainder of the toys will be distributed to area kids whose names have already been selected by the agencies that Westerman’s is working with as part of Saturday’s toy drive. The kids will be able to come through the warehouse in time slots to keep the event safe and socially distanced, but Diaz said each child should be able to select a toy or two from the allotment that the store received.

“There’s definitely plenty (of toys),” Diaz said.

In addition to the toys that have been donated, local residents who wish to donate to the toy drive can drop off a new boxed toys at Westerman’s, which is located at 36 Suffolk St. Westerman’s employees will will make sure the toys end up in the hands of a child who may not otherwise receive something for Christmas.

Diaz said he and other Westerman’s employees will be going over the list of local children who will receive toys and begin to organize the large quantity of toys that now fill up space in the warehouse. While the space is typically reserved for restaurant equipment, Diaz said being able to make the most of toys that may otherwise may have been thrown away is all worth the effort that will go into organizing Saturday’s event.

Trying to do so in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has created some wrinkles to keeping the toy drive safe, but because the effort is one that Westerman’s founder, the late Steve Westerman, would have wanted his business associated with, Diaz is happy to put Saturday’s toy drive together to help the community.

“It’s a big effort,” Diaz said. “There will be a lot of extra hours for me, but it’s all good.”

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