Flagler County Sheriff's Office coordinated the event on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Target on State Road 100.
A decade of giving all started with a dream retired Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Larry Jones had for the community.
“I told my wife I wanted to give back to the community,” he said, referring to a conversation that took place during Christmas with a Deputy's inaugural year. “She said, ‘Yes, we have some money,’ and I said, ‘I want to give to some kids, because I grew up poor, and I know what’s it’s like to not have.’”
On Friday, Dec. 15, the 10th-annual event welcomed 125 children to Target on State Road 100. Many children got to participate in games and activities at the law offices of perennial sponsor Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant, and then ride up in a convoy of police cars, with lights aglow and sirens blazing.
After taking a large group photo with Santa Claus and the law enforcement present, each kid and deputy pair shopped with a $150 gift card for each child to pick out Christmas gifts.
From July through December, FSCO employees donated to the Christmas with a Deputy fund through payroll deductions. This year, the agency raised $8,950, with the help of donations from the community.
“I cry every year,” Jones said. “The most exciting part is when the kids go over the $150, and the deputy reaches in their pocket to add the extra money so the kid doesn’t have to put a gift back.”
Children are selected to participate in the event by nominations from FCSO employees and Flagler County School District staff. Some officers from other law enforcement agencies, such as Florida Highway Patrol, Bunnell Police and Flagler Beach Police, joined in the fun at the event.
“I want the kids to enjoy it,” Jones said. “That’s what it’s all about. I don’t want to see any kids waking up Christmas morning without gifts under the tree.”