DERBY – Yesterday morning, law enforcement officers met at the Orleans County Sheriff's Department's new building on the Derby Road for a very important assignment – delivering Christmas presents to area schools.
School officials will distribute the toys, clothes and other presents to parents of predetermined children. In all, law enforcement officers delivered toys to 13 area children. Orleans County Sheriff's Dispatcher Tammy LaCourse estimated there were enough presents for 150 children, well over the goal of 95.
Agencies involved with the collection and distribution include the Orleans County Sheriff Department, Newport City Police, Border Patrol, Vermont State Police – Derby, and Probation and Parole. Poulin Grain, Kimtek Corporation and several private families also purchased presents.
“I love giving to the kids,” said LaCourse, who has organized the collection ever since it started three years ago. “There are a lot of struggling people. We’re fortunate to have all jobs and I like giving to kids at Christmas. I love it.”
The collection initially started when the sheriff’s office received a donation of toys to give to a needed family. That turned into an office collection and then a challenge between the different law enforcement agencies in the region.
Lacourse starts the collection process by contacting area schools. The schools that respond gives the clothing size, if it’s a boy or girl, and his or her likes. Nobody knows the name of the child.
“We don’t want to know, we just know there will be some happy kids this year,” said LaCourse with a chuckle. “It’s become a fun thing.”
LaCourse guessed the value of the toys to be around $4,000.
Owners of Poulin Grain used their Christmas presents, given to them by their employees in the form of cash, to purchase some of the presents.
“We were running short toward the end and Poulin Grain stepped up to the plate and made this successful,” said Sheriff Kirk Martin. “We owe them a big thanks.”
“I’m proud to do it,” said Kimball Johnson, president of Kimtek. “We need to put a Christmas smile on the face of every boy and girl we can. There are a lot of children who need to know that community is important and the community is thinking of them.”
Supervisor, Border Patrol Agent Tim Sevall, who coordinated the Border Patrol’s efforts with Joel Graciano, said the agents wanted to show they care about and are members of the community. “Showing good will to others is part of the Border Patrol way,” said Sevall.
Newport City Police Chief J. Paul Duquette said his officers wanted to ensure underprivileged children enjoy the holiday.
Sgt. Sean Selby called the collection a good collaborative effort between all the agencies. He also said it helps families and shows that police are caring individuals. Selby had his own children pick out the presents. “They understand there are people who are less fortunate,” Selby said. “It makes them appreciate things more.”
Probation and Parole Officer Art Gibney said the presents put something under the tree for families who can’t afford to buy gifts.
“Every kid should have something to open on Christmas morning," said Sheriff Martin.
LaCourse hopes the collection will continue for years to come. “I will personally organize it every year, just as long as we have the support,” promised LaCourse.