DERBY – As a light snow fell yesterday morning, police officers met at the Orleans County Sheriff's Department for a very important assignment – delivering toys to area schools.
The schools will distribute the toys to families of children who might otherwise get little or nothing during Christmas. The children can receive the gifts from Santa, their parents or others.
Law enforcement officers from all local agencies, state police dispatchers, Department of Correction Officers, first responders and local citizens helped cover the cost of the toys.
The sheriff's department started Operation Santa in 2008 and it has grown each year. Last year participants purchased presents for 100 youngsters. This year the officers delivered presents for 161 youngsters.
Dispatcher Tammy LaCourse contacted area public schools to get the needs of children. Organizers and officers never know a child’s name nor do they want to know. Operation Santa aims at serving families that are trying to make ends meet.
“There were some kids who were definitely not going to get any presents this year,” said Sheriff Kirk Martin. “Because of this, we know there are some kids who will have something.”
Donors included Kimtek Research, Poulin Grain, De La Bruere’s Auto Sales, Mt. Sinai Shriners, the Irasburg Fire Department and Northeast International Mutual-Aid and various anonymous individuals.
The donations meant a lot to everyone involved with the project.
“Every little bit we get is that much more we can help some kid out there,” said Martin. “Christmas is about kids.”
“This was a great year; between law enforcement, businesses and private citizens,” added LaCourse. “Everybody stepped up. We’re doing a lot for a lot of kids this year. The amount of people who donated was huge.”
Not only did the department collect more toys this year, the toys had a higher cost.