Sheriff’s Office to host Seventh Annual Holiday Toy Drive

Event benefits children and teens in three programs

Gifts abound under the 2022 holiday tree at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard. Contributed photo

Starting Dec. 1, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office will host its Seventh Annual Holiday Toy Drive benefiting the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program and two other organizations, Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman has announced.
Launched in 2017 when the agency moved into its new headquarters on Cattleridge Boulevard in Sarasota, the toy drive has become a holiday project that members of the agency and Sarasota County residents look forward to every year, a news release says.

With the help of agency members, residents, local businesses, and organizations, the release adds, the Sheriff’s Office has donated more than 12,500 gifts and $43,000 in gift cards to children enrolled in the Guardian ad Litem program (GAL) over the past six years.

“Because of the event’s continued growth and success, the release notes, Sheriff Hoffman invited Teen Court of Sarasota and All Star Children’s Foundation” to take part in the Toy Drive beginning last year.

“We aim to give these kids a holiday they will enjoy and remember,” said Hoffman in the release. “Going into our seventh year, we’re continuously overwhelmed at the outpouring of community support we routinely see. Supporting these wonderful organizations during the holidays makes this season, and Sarasota County as a whole, so special!” he added.

In Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, more than 1,000 children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect are part of the GAL program, the release points out. “Teens enrolled in Teen Court are supported by the organization’s mission to create a second chance for at-risk youth, helping them make positive choices through meaningful consequences, peer mentorship, and civic engagement,” the release explains. “All Star Children’s Foundation exists to provide children in foster care with a secure environment where they feel valued, safe, and empowered,” it adds.

All three organizations provide for children ranging from newborns to the age of 18, the release continues.

The Sheriff’s Office “focuses the initiative solely on toys and gift cards,” the release emphasizes. The agency requests that members of the public refrain from donating clothing or stuffed animals, as Sheriff’s Office personnel want to ensure that all donations are new and unwrapped.

The collection period will begin Friday, Dec. 1, and continue through Wednesday, Dec. 13, the release notes. Individuals may deliver gifts to the agency’s headquarters — which stands at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd. in Sarasota — every day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

This year’s Holiday Toy Drive will coincide with the agency’s Annual Open House on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 2 to 6 p.m., the release points out. The first 500 Open House attendees to deliver a new and unwrapped toy or gift card will receive a free Sheriff’s Office T-shirt, limited to one gift per person, the release adds.

Again, this year, the Sheriff’s Office is extending its appreciation to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Public Safety Department “for generously donating a holiday tree to serve as the toy drive’s collection site.”

For more information about the Toy Drive, contact the Community Affairs Office at 941-861-4005.