Fifth annual Holiday Toy Drive planned by Sheriff’s Office for children who have been removed from homes because of neglect or abuse

Gifts accepted between Dec. 1 and Dec. 12 at agency’s 6010 Cattleridge Blvd. headquarters in Sarasota

These are all the donations under the tree in the lobby of the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard on Dec. 19, 2019, at the conclusion of that year’s Toy Drive. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

This year, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office will host its fifth annual holiday toy drive benefitting the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem program, Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman has announced.

“More than 1,300 children from throughout Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and as such, appointed a Guardian ad Litem,” a news release explains. Because the children range in age from newborns to 18, with varying personal needs, the Sheriff’s Office “has chosen to focus the holiday initiative solely on toys and gift cards,” the release points out. Community residents “are asked to refrain from donating clothing or stuffed animals and to make sure all donations are new and unwrapped,” the release adds.

The initiative will begin on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and continue until Sunday, Dec. 12. People may deliver donations to the agency’s headquarters, located at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd. in Sarasota, every day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. the release notes.

The toy drive was launched in 2017, after the agency moved into its new headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard. To date, with help from agency members, residents, local businesses and organizations, the Sheriff’s Office has donated more than 7,000 gifts, including $20,000 in gift cards, to the Guardian ad Litem program, the release points out.

Thanks to a partnership with the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Public Safety Department, public safety personnel once again are “generously donating a holiday tree,” which will serve as the collection site for the toy drive, the release says. The tree will be delivered to the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Monday, Nov. 29, at 11 a.m.

“We are overwhelmed by the continued success of this toy drive and thrilled to launch it for a fifth consecutive year,” said Sheriff Hoffman in the release. “The outpouring of support in 2020 really speaks to how Sarasota County citizens are always ready to help one another, no matter the circumstance.”

The holiday toy drive will coincide with the agency’s annual open house, which is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 11. The first 500 attendees to deliver a new and unwrapped toy or gift card will receive a free Sheriff’s Office T-shirt. The shirts will be limited to one per person per gift, the release notes. The event will take place from 2 to 6 p.m.

For more information, contact the agency’s Community Affairs Office at 941-861-4005.