Toy drive brings Christmas to schools

Published 10:33 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Thanks to generous Suffolk citizens, the Sheriff’s Office was able to once again bring all sorts of Christmas gifts to elementary school students on Monday.

Deputies were at both Suffolk Walmart stores on Saturday collecting new, unwrapped toys for “Operation Helping Hands,” their fifth annual toy drive. The rain started early that morning, but they still managed to get the job done.

“Pretty much the majority of our office was working the toy drive on Saturday,” said community engagement coordinator Katie Jones.

Email newsletter signup

They ended up with a trailer’s worth of dolls, action figures, playsets, pogo sticks and other toys, including a dozen child-sized bicycles. These were distributed between Oakland, Pioneer and Elephant’s Fork elementary schools.

Corey Hamlin, assistant principal for Elephant’s Fork Elementary, said the Sheriff’s Office is one of the school’s “partners in education.” Deputies come by the school on a regular basis for walkthroughs and tutoring.

Hamlin said it boosts the students’ morale to spend time with the deputies.

“It strengthens that bond between students and our law enforcement community,” he said.

About a half-dozen deputies rolled in bicycles and carried bags of toys into the Elephant’s Fork lobby. There was so much that Hamlin and other teachers had to help move some of the bags.

The toy drive helps to provide toys each year to the neediest children, whose families are struggling to afford Christmas presents this year, along with other students that will benefit from this gifting.

Sheriff E.C. Harris was grateful for the generosity of citizens young and old who contributed on Saturday. Without them, none of this would be possible, he said.

“It’s very important to me for these children to enjoy their holidays,” he said, adding that Christmas seems to be one of those special times of the year when everyone is more willing to do their part. “It would be all right with me if every day was Christmas Day,” Harris said.