Nassau Police Officer Peter Ellison, who has collected toys for...

Nassau Police Officer Peter Ellison, who has collected toys for needy children each Christmas for 34 years, is honored by the Nassau County Legislature on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

For 34 years, Nassau Police Officer Peter Ellison has collected toys for children who might not otherwise get any gifts during the holiday season.

Ellison, assigned to the department’s elite Bureau of Special Operations, has became the face of the police department’s Toys for Tots operation, growing it over the years to help as many as 10,000 needy kids annually, officials said Wednesday.

Ellison was recognized by the Nassau County Legislature, the Police Benevolent Association and Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter as December’s “Top Cop” for his efforts on Wednesday.

“I started putting out the boxes every year in the precincts,” said Ellison, who served in the Marines. “I think the first year I collected maybe 500 to 600 toys throughout the police department . . . It’s heartbreaking and touching to see a kid get one or two or three new toys. It’s very nice.”

PBA President James Carver said Ellison’s volunteerism is in the strong tradition of other cops, who serve as sports coaches and scout mentors in their communities.

“It’s not done while he’s working,” said Carver. “This is all done on his own time. Again, this is one of our many police officers that are involved in community service every year. And I think no better time of the year than a time of giving to honor somebody who gives so much of himself day in and day out.”

Ellison said his fellow officers often give him tips on needy families they run into on the job. “Every child out there deserves a nice holiday,” Ellison said.

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