By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Etowah County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Natalie Barton said the shopping she and other ECSO employees do for children to be helped by the Etowah County Sheriff’s Charities is something that brings them joy each Christmas.
The not-for-profit organization raises money throughout the year to provide for some of the county’s children in need at Christmas.
Barton said guidance counselors in the county elementary schools identify families that need assistance.
“The counselors see these children and they know who needs our help,” she said.
After a year’s fundraising with meat sale, t-shirt sales and the annual 5K-10K run at Noccalula Falls, the group purchased clothing and toys for 23 children, and female inmates in the detention center’s Substance Abuse Prevention Program wrapped the gifts in the last week.
Barton said each child receives two outfits, a jacket, a toboggan and gloves, new athletic shoes – “except one boy who specifically asked for boots, so we got him boots” – socks and underwear.
Old Navy and Shoe Department assisted with shopping, Barton said, and all clothes and shoes were bought at those stores.
Old Navy gave an additional discount on the clothing, and Shoe Department employees were good-natured about the task of finding the mates to 23 shoes.
“We took care of the necessities,” Barton said, “then asked each child for a wish list of five things they wanted. We tried to get two or three things on each list.”
Tech toys were popular, as they will be on every kid’s wish list. Furbies were a big item this year, Barton said.
Barton said the women in the SAPP program help with the wrapping to give back to the community – one of the lessons the SAPP program tries to instill in participants.
She said some of the women would talk about their children as they wrapped gifts – about which of the items their children would like to have, and the sheriff’s office employees offered them some encouragement.
“We told them next year you need to be at home, doing this for your own children,” Barton said.