Sheriff’s Office to host second annual holiday toy drive for children in Guardian ad Litem program

Initiative will begin on Dec. 1 and continue through Dec. 15

Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is hosting its second annual holiday toy drive benefitting the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem program, Sheriff Tom Knight has announced.

More than 1,500 children from throughout Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and, as such, they have been appointed a Guardian ad Litem, a Sheriff’s Office news release explains. Because the children range in age from newborn 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. Members of the public 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 Saturday, Dec. 1, and continue until Saturday, Dec. 15, the release says. The public can 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 initiative launched in 2017 when the agency moved into its new headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard, the release explains. For the first time in 30 years, the release points out, the Sheriff’s Office had its own space to decorate and to be able to accept gifts for children during the holiday season.

In 2017, with help from agency members, residents, local businesses and organizations, the Sheriff’s Office collected more than 750 donations, including more than $1,000 in gift cards, the release notes. Because of the program’s success, the Sheriff’s Office “hopes to beat last year’s numbers and collect even more gifts for children in need,” the release adds.

“We are very excited to launch this holiday toy drive for the second year in a row,” said Sheriff Knight in the release. “I remember being in awe last year when I walked into our lobby on the final day of giving. To see my employees and community really step up and show this act of kindness during the holiday season makes me very proud to be part of Sarasota County.”

The holiday toy drive will take place during the agency’s annual open house on Saturday, Dec. 8, the release notes. The first 300 attendees who deliver a new and unwrapped toy or gift card will receive a free Sheriff’s Office T-shirt, the release says. “T-shirts are limited to one per person per gift,” it adds.