Third annual toy drive to get underway at Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Dec. 1

Initiative helps children in 12th Judicial Circuit’s Guardian ad Litem Program

Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Starting Dec. 1, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office will host its third annual holiday toy drive to benefit the 12th Judicial Circuit’s Guardian ad Litem Program, Sheriff Tom Knight has announced.

More than 1,500 children from throughout Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, a news release points out. Each of those children is appointed a Guardian ad Litem, the 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 emphasizes. 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 says.

After beginning on Sunday, Dec. 1, the drive will continue until Sunday, Dec. 15, the release points out. The public may deliver donations to the agency’s headquarters, which is located at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd. in Sarasota, every day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The initiative launched in 2017 when the agency moved into its new headquarters, the release explains. To date, with help from agency members, residents, local businesses and organizations, the Sheriff’s Office has donated more than 2,100 gifts, including nearly $5,000 in gift cards, to the Guardian ad Litem program, the release notes.

Given the toy drive’s success, the Sheriff’s Office “hopes to beat last year’s numbers and collect even more gifts for children in need,” the release continues.

As a result of a partnership with the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Public Safety Department, hospital personnel are “generously donating a holiday tree,” which will serve as the collection site for the toy drive, the release notes. The tree will be delivered to the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 11 a.m., the release adds.

“We are thrilled to once again launch our holiday toy drive, now in its third year,” said Sheriff Knight in the release. “The outpouring of support year after year from our employees and community during the holiday season makes me immensely proud to be a citizen of Sarasota County.”

The holiday toy drive will coincide with the agency’s annual open house, which is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7, the release points out. 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 says.

The open house will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 7.

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