For the third year in a row, the Bouchard & Sons Towing Company in Hampden is collecting donations of toys to give to children across eastern Maine this holiday season.

Owner Wayne Bouchard says the toy drive started small and has grown each year.

"It started off, the first time, we didn't plan on getting a whole lot. But then we ended up getting a couple of truckloads of toys. And the second time we did it, I figured it would be the same way; a couple of pickup truck loads of toys and it ended up last year that we filled a box truck."

Then in February of this year, tragedy struck as a fire leveled one of Bouchard's garage bays in Hampden.

Photo credit: Acting Lieutenant -Matt Thomas, Hampden
Photo credit: Acting Lieutenant -Matt Thomas, Hampden

Bouchard said he didn't think he was going to do the Towing for Tots drive this year until customers started inquiring about it.

"I wasn't going to do it this year, just because I'm trying to get rebuilt and get my guys back into a building before snow flies. But I had some of my customers ask me 'Hey, are you doing Towing For Tots again this year?' and I said 'Yup. I guess I'm gonna,' and it's really taken off so far this year."

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In years past, he's delivered the toys collected in the Towing For Tots drive to local organizations who then get them out to kids in need throughout the community.

Bouchard says once all of the toys are collected, his wife Karen and some other employees take the money, and aside from more toys, they get other gift cards for essentials local families might need, to send along, as well.

"Last year we were able to get 5 100-gallon fuel vouchers. We were able to get hundreds of dollars worth of Hannaford gift cards. We bought one of the Walmarts out 4 times of all of the kid's coats they had in stock."

Bouchard says that Bouchard & Sons Towing is donating 10% of its November proceeds towards the effort. He said since kicking off November 1st, Towing For Tots has raised $2,250. His goal for this year; to fill a tractor-trailer with toys for Maine kids by December 15th.

Towing For Tots, Photo courtesy of Bouchard & Sons Towing
Towing For Tots, Photo courtesy of Bouchard & Sons Towing

"I bet we've got 30 coats right now. We've got 8 or 10 bicycles already."

Bouchard says donations can be made right over the phone, by calling the shop at (207) 862-5050. Or, by appointment only, for a donation of a toy to the cause, Bouchard & Sons Towing is offering a free oil change, too.

"I'm a pretty humble guy. I didn't come from a lot of money and we didn't have a lot growing up and you know, I just hate, with the pandemic, that the news threatening that there's not gonna be any toys by early. We just want to make sure kids have a good Christmas."

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