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Project Exile Announces Toys for Guns Initiative

Wed, Nov 25th 2015 02:40 pm

 Rochester, NY - On December 2, 2015, members of Project Exile announced its newest initiative, entitled Toys for Guns, aimed at making the Rochester community a safer place to work, live, and raise a family. Toys for Guns, a collaborative effort between the entities of Project Exile and the Pirate Toy Fund, will be held on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 between 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and again on Saturday, December 19, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Crime Victims Resource Center, located at 244 S. Plymouth Avenue, Rochester, NY 14608. The newest swap initiative will involve members of the community turning in firearms to representatives from law enforcement in exchange for vouchers to be used in the selection of toys.

"The holidays are a very special time where we all wish for peace on earth and want to do the best for our families," said Project Exile Advisory Board Chair, Gary Mervis. "Toys for Guns will provide the opportunity for anonymous gun surrendering, and in exchange, participants will be given toys for their children and loved ones," added Mervis.

Modeled after an effort in New York City Toys for Guns swap that took place in 1993, Toys for Guns will be an avenue for legal and illegal gun owners to surrender their gun in an anonymous, no questions asked forum. "I got it [9 millimeter Stallard automatic pistol] a long time ago and it has just been sitting there," said an anonymous donor during the 1993 New York City swap. "I don't have a police record and I thought that, with having it in my home, anything could happen. I didn't want to get in trouble for having a gun. I've never been in jail and I don't want to go to jail."

The Rochester Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff's Department, and New York State Police will collaborate and coordinate the Toys for Guns program and will ensure the safety of the members involved, as well as the community. The agencies will provide precautionary measures for safe collection, handling, and temporary storage of any firearms surrendered. The guns will be held for destruction at a later date/time.

Sponsored by News10NBC, Toys for Guns will feature representatives from Camp Good Days and Special Times and The Pirate Toy Fund to facilitate the distribution of toys once the firearms are turned in. 

For more information about the Toys for Guns program, please contact James McCauley, Jr., PAVE Coordinator at 585-624-5555 or jmccauley@campgooddays.org.

Project Exile was started in Rochester in September 1998, making it the second city to implement the program in the United States. It began when Mervis was asked to attend a meeting in a Federal Judge's chambers, where he met then Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, Denise O'Donnell. As a result of that meeting, Project Exile was implemented in the Rochester community on September 28, 1998.  It is a collaborative and cooperative effort between local, state and federal government operating under the direction of the Project Exile Advisory Board, comprised of representatives from local, state and federal prosecutors and law enforcement, as well as businesses, clergy, and community organizations. Mervis has been pleased to serve as the Chairman of the Project Exile Advisory Board since its implementation.  The Project Exile Advisory Board meets once per month throughout the year, at the Federal Building, to share information and improve communications among those who are waging the battles against illegal guns and drugs in our community.

The Pirate Toy Fund provides toys to Rochester-area hospitalized children, as well as children in need, as result of disaster and family trauma, for the purpose of fostering happiness, emotional well-being and an appreciation for their community's commitment to their growth.

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