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AYER — The Police Department’s Patrol Officers Association and Superior Officers Union are gearing up to play Santa for less fortunate young people for the sixth year as the annual Ayer Police Toy Drive gets underway.

All toys will be forwarded to Loaves & Fishes to be distributed to needy families in Ayer, Devens, Shirley, Groton, Harvard and Littleton, said police Sgt. John MacDonald, toy drive coordinator.

The unions are kicking off the event with a donation of approximately 150 toys.

MacDonald is asking community members to remember those less fortunate by donating unwrapped toys that will make a difference in a local youth’s holiday season.

The unwrapped toys can be dropped off at several locations in town as well as at Nashoba Publishing offices at 78 Barnum Road, Devens. Collection drop boxes will be placed at North Middlesex Savings Bank, Town Hall, the library and police station.

Families with students in Ayer public schools can also send their children to school with new toys, and they can drop them off at the offices of Ayer Middle-High School and Page Hilltop School, said MacDonald.

“Older kids in the 12- to 18-year-old age group are overlooked a lot (and are included on the list),” he said. “There is definitely a need for this. The whole department is behind the effort. Almost all the officers ask me what they can do. Everything we collect goes directly back to the community.”

The list of toys being sought includes early-year/infant toys; Barbies; baby dolls; boy’s action figures; construction toys such as Legos, Playmobile and K’nex; and board games such as Connect Four, Battleship, UNO, Monopoly, Candy Land, Sorry and Yahtzee.

The list for older children includes CD players, hand-held video games, and gift cards for stores such as Newbury Comics, Old Navy, Circuit City and Toys’R’Us.

Loaves & Fishes typically conducts Shop for Your Kids Day for which those who wish to acquire the toys register, go through a screening process, then proceed along tables of toys arranged according to price, said MacDonald. One item per child is allowed.

He said that according to Vicki Zimmon, Loaves & Fishes toy distribution coordinator, 445 children were served last year.

The deadline for toys collected by the Police Department is Dec. 21. For information contact MacDonald at the police station — preferably leaving a voice mail because he works nights — or visit www.devenspantry.org.