Although Osmond “Ozzie” Hardy retired from the Police Department early last year, he hasn’t given up on children in the community.
With Christmas fast approaching, Haverhill’s unofficial Santa is once again collecting donations for Ozzie’s Kids — an organization he founded 24 years ago to provide Christmas gifts to needy children.
Hardy is continuing the program which brings gifts each year to hundreds of children who otherwise would have nothing under the tree. And like in past years, he’s getting help. “Santa Hardy” credits the community for having sustained Ozzie’s Kids over the years through donations of gifts and money from schools, businesses, individuals, families and various organizations.
Several businesses in the city are helping Ozzie’s Kids by serving as drop-off locations for donations, including Haverhill Bank in Lafayette Square and Bradford Square, Hardy said. The police station, which long served as the program’s North Pole, is also a drop-off location. Hardy said police Chief Alan DeNaro is allowing dispatchers to direct callers to the Ozzie’s Kids Facebook page that was created last year by Hardy’s granddaughter.
Local families are helping too.
Each year for the past four years, Maureen Menzie of Haverhill and her daughter-in-law Christina Menzie have held a toy drive for Ozzie’s Kids at Bactes, a medical records company in Beverly where they work. This year, Bactes employees donated almost 500 new toys for Ozzie’s Kids, along with $400 to buy more.
Hardy was able to whittle his list down just a bit with those donations.
“I filled almost 90 bags with five gifts each this past weekend with help from the collection from the Menzie family,” he said.
Kevin Menzie of Haverhill said he and his wife, Christina, wanted to do more and are organizing a toy drive that will be held next week at Toma’s, a downtown restaurant.