Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman is pleased to announce the sheriff’s office is hosting its 6th annual holiday toy drive benefitting the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program, and two new partner organizations.
The initiative was launched in 2017 when the agency moved into its new headquarters facility on Cattleridge Boulevard in Sarasota.
To date, with help from agency members, residents, local businesses, and organizations, the sheriff’s office has donated more than 10,000 gifts and $31,000 in gift cards to children enrolled in the GAL program over the last five years.
Because of the event’s growing success, Sheriff Hoffman this year invited Teen Court of Sarasota and All Star Children’s Foundation to also take part in the initiative.
“This is our sixth year collecting toys for local kids and it is through strong community partnerships and connections with our citizens that the event keeps getting bigger,” commented Sheriff Hoffman. “After last year’s success, we anticipate our largest toy collection to date which is why we are partnering with two new organizations this year. Both Teen Court and All Star Children’s Foundation serve children and families right here in our community, their organizations share in our values, and most importantly, they support kids who deserve a memorable holiday.”
There are currently more than 1,000 children throughout Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto counties who were removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and, as such, are part of the GAL program.
Teens enrolled in Teen Court are supported by the organization’s mission to create a second chance for at-risk youth, helping them make healthy choices through meaningful consequences, peer mentorship, and civic engagement. Finally, All Star Children’s Foundation exists to provide children in foster care with a secure environment where they feel valued, safe, and empowered.
Because children and teens from all three organizations range in age from newborn to 18 with varying personal needs, the sheriff’s office focuses the initiative solely on toys and gift cards. Citizens are asked not to donate clothing or stuffed animals and ensure all donations are new and unwrapped.
The collection period begins Thursday, December 1, and continues through Wednesday, December 14. Citizens can deliver gifts to the agency’s headquarters at 6010 Cattleridge Boulevard, Sarasota, every day between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
This year’s holiday toy drive also coincides with the agency’s annual open house on Saturday, December 10 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. The first 500 attendees to deliver a new and unwrapped toy or gift card will receive a free sheriff’s office t-shirt, limited to one per person per gift.
The sheriff’s office thanks the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Public Safety Department for again generously donating a holiday tree that will serve as the collection site for the toy drive. For more information, contact the agency’s Community Affairs Office at 941.861.4005.