Aiden Jones showed off his new football as he met with Santa Claus at the Burke County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday.
He was among hundreds of children who received a toy during the department’s first Christmas Toy Drive. His mother, Brittany Jones, 25, of Waynesboro, was more than thankful for the initiative.
“It’s truly a blessing and it had a great outcome,” she said “I’m looking forward to it next year.”
William Conley, 39, of Waynesboro, was accompanied by his wife and their three children who were very eager to meet and take photos with Santa. Conley said the event would be a memorable one for his 2-year-old son, Wyatt, who was born premature and has to make frequent visits to the hospital.
“This would be his first picture with Santa since his time in the hospital,” he said. “(This event) draws people close together, so I think this is a great event for community.”
Corene Woods, 58, of Waynesboro, brought her three grandchildren to get toys. She said she couldn’t completely enjoy the event because her two sons are incarcerated, who she hopes will be home soon.
“That would be a good Christmas present for me, his son and his daughter,” she said. “If they were home I would be making plans.”
The sheriff’s office plans to make the giveaway an annual event to help low-income families and build better relations with the community.
“Burke County is one of the poorest counties in the state and we are here to help combat that,” Sheriff Alfonzo Williams said. “We started a Facebook campaign (for the drive) to encourage and inspired others to give, and it was refreshing to people giving and kids learning the value of other people.”
Residents and department staff spent several weeks raising money and collecting more than 1,500 toys, Williams said. An additional 10 children from the Division of Family Children Services program will shop with deputies, and another group of needy children will receive new bikes.
“We are very pleased with the outcome and we hope to continue to fossil this positive relationship between our office and the community,” Williams said.
Acaia Daniel, a 41-year-old EMA from Waynesboro, was also pleased. She came with her two grandchildren as a way of showing her support for the agency’s effort.
“It’s great to have the kids not thinking that all sheriff’s deputies are bad,” she said. “Their willingness to be supportive of the kids and the community is better than it has ever been.”