Holiday Toy Drive organized by Sheriff’s Office sees more than double the donations collected in 2019

Toys and gifts to go to children in Guardian Ad Litem program in 12th Judicial Circuit

Col. Kurt A. Hoffman (far left) and Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Circuit Director Toni Latortue (right, front) are joined by Sheriff’s Office members and GAL employees on the afternoon of Dec. 17, following the donation. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Members of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office are extending their gratitude to community residents and workers for the success of this year’s Holiday Toy Drive for children enrolled in the 12th Judicial Circuit Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program, the Sheriff’s Office has announced.

From Dec. 1-15, employees, representatives of local businesses, and residents brought toys and gift cards to the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard in Sarasota, a news release says. The gifts had been selected for the children in the Guardian Ad Litem program, who range in age from newborns to 18 and who reside in Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto counties, the release adds. These children and teens have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, the release points out.

In 2019, the Sheriff’s Office donated 1,453 toys and $4,120 in gift cards, the release notes. This year, the agency more than doubled its contribution to the Guardian Ad Litem program, having collected 3,608 toys and $11,340 in gift cards, the release says.

On the afternoon of Dec. 17, “agency members made the official delivery to the GAL offices, where over the next several days, guardians will select individual gifts for children in their care,” the release adds.

“We really had no idea what to expect this year in terms of support,” said Col. Kurt A. Hoffman in the release. “With people losing their jobs and businesses shut down due to COVID-19, our goal was simply to match last year’s numbers. You can imagine our surprise,” he continued, “when we counted the toys and realized we more than doubled last year’s donation. I think this speaks to the Sarasota County community and how, no matter the circumstance, we are always ready to help one another.”

This year’s initiative was the fourth the Sheriff’s Office has organized since its relocation of administrative offices to the Cattleridge Boulevard site.

The 2020 effort “was supported by a significant financial contribution made by US Health Advisors in Sarasota,” the release points out. “Special thanks to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Public Safety Department, Home Depot Cattlemen and Sam’s Club Cattlemen for their support,” the release adds.