‘Helping Hands’ bring Christmas cheer

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Suffolk Sheriff’s Office delivered bags and boxes packed with toys to Suffolk elementary schools on Monday, thanks to generous local donors in Suffolk that helped support the annual “Operation Helping Hands” toy drive.

Sheriff’s deputies and other volunteers were at the Walmart stores in both downtown and North Suffolk Saturday to collect toy donations. Deputies then brought donated toys to Elephant’s Fork and Kilby Shores elementary schools on Monday morning.

“I’m going to say that this is more than double what they did last year,” said Norma Williams, a paraprofessional teacher assistant at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, as she looked at the many bags of donated toys that were brought by the Sheriff’s Office.

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Sheriff E.C. Harris said that it seemed like “everybody in Suffolk must have been at both Walmarts, because there was not a parking place to be had,” and that thanks to this “tremendous outpouring of generosity,” they were able to collect at least 2,500 toys, by his estimation.

“We had folks come to us and tell us that as small children, they had toys donated to them, because they wouldn’t have gotten any toys,” Harris said at Elephant’s Fork Elementary on Monday. “It was heart wrenching, but heartwarming at the same time. The citizens of Suffolk and the surrounding area really showed their generosity here at the holiday season.”

In conjunction with other donations that Elephant’s Fork Elementary School has received, Assistant Principal Kristal Taylor said that every child in the building will get at least one toy this year, including all of their children in need.

“We’re thankful that we were chosen once again to be supported by the (Sheriff’s Office) and our local community,” Taylor said. “This generosity will allow our students to have a wonderful holiday season.”

Katie Jones, community engagement coordinator for the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office, said that there were more toys coming this week from other generous, local donors. These extra toys will go to other schools to support even more children in need this holiday season.

Local businesses like Brighter Day Café on North Main Street helped collect toys for the Sheriff’s Office this season, Jones said. Others donations have come from the Ladies of Distinction group at Florence Bowser Elementary School, and the Suffolk Public Defender’s Office.