Greenwood, S.C.; December 8, 2020 – Though 2020 feels like a year which has delivered bad news on a regular basis, the Solicitor’s Office is helping to spread holiday cheer by continuing the longstanding tradition of its annual Christmas toy donation.
In the spirit of other Christmas traditions, the annual toy donation has continued across several decades and at least three different Solicitors and its origins are the stuff of lore. And each year, participants in diversion programs at the Solicitor’s Office continue deliver a special brand of Christmas cheer to those in need.
“This is truly my favorite time of year at work,” said 8th Circuit Pre-Trial Intervention Director Dale Allen. “I have the best seat in the house because I get to see not only the joy of those receiving the gifts, but also the joy of those giving the gifts.”
From August through December, participants in diversion programs such as PTI, Alcohol Education Program, and Traffic Education Program, can bring in donations of toys for Christmas. Each toy must have a value of at least $10 and participants receive five hours of credit toward their community service hours for every $30 spent.
Each year the Solicitor’s Office partners with other agencies across the circuit–such as Laurens SAFE Home and Salvation Army, along with other nonprofits, social services agencies and law enforcement agencies–to handle the distribution of the donations. Just before Christmas, representatives from partner agencies pick up a portion of the donations and distribute them to specific families in need in their respective areas of service.
This year has brought many challenges, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout that has left the area with many more in need than in years past. However, due to restrictions in place due to the pandemic, finding places to safely perform in-person community service hours were severely limited, causing more participants to utilize toy donations to satisfy the requirements of their respective programs. Thus, the office had even more toys to distribute in 2020 than in recent years.
“I can’t think of any other single function in my office that so perfectly exemplifies our mission of balancing accountability with restorative justice to make our communities safer places to live,” 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo said of the annual toy donation. “These participants in our diversion programs get to experience the true joy of giving back in a community while gaining the valuable second chance of keeping their criminal record clean. It is my prayer that each toy will find its way into the hands of the right child and bring a smile to their face in what has been a very difficult year for our nation.”