COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is asking for help to spread cheer this holiday season.
“Shop with a Sheriff” is looking for donations before Dec. 7.
“Anything we can do to bring Christmas back, bring some joy, is what we need to do,” said Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin.
The six-year tradition of Shop with a Sheriff will still happen this year, but the COVID-19 health crisis is forcing the event to adapt.
“Normally, we would go around with the children and actually shop. Well, we can’t do that this year because of COVID,” Baldwin said.
The event began when several deputies encountered children in need on a call for service and decided to purchase holiday gifts with their own money. The good deed inspired the sheriff’s office to team up with community partners and expand the service.
Traditionally, deputies escort the families around Target and let the children choose their gifts.
Baldwin recalled a previous Shop with a Sheriff trip with a family whose home had been destroyed in a fire. The oldest child asked to use his shopping trip money to buy gifts for his siblings, despite losing his own belongings in the fire.
“You can just tell sometimes,” Baldwin said. “You’ll see a child that just doesn’t have a lot. And it kind of tugs at your heart.”
With the effects of COVID-19 devastating many communities, Baldwin anticipates the need will be greater this year.
“It’s been a really hard year for a multitude of reasons and we need to really embrace the families and children more than ever this time,” he said.
To promote safety, the 2020 participating families will create an online wishlist. Then Target employees will find the items in the store, package them and deputies will deliver the gifts directly to families at their homes.
The Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Graham Elementary and Middle School (GEMS), the Martin de Porres Center, SON Ministries and Belle Harbour to identify community needs and connect families with the service. Their goal is to help at least 20 children, but the hope is community donations will allow for more.
If you’re interested in helping with Shop with a Sheriff, click here to donate.