Wiregrass sheriffs launch Operation Toy DropPublished 11:08pm Thursday, November 14, 2013
Sheriffs from across the Wiregrass gathered at the Ozark Airport Thursday morning to announce their participation in Operation Toy Drop and kick of their donation drive for the statewide toy drop to benefit Children’s of Alabama.
The second annual Operation Toy Drop will take place Friday, Dec. 6 as aviation units from law enforcement agencies across Alabama gather in Birmingham to help Santa Claus deliver hundreds of toys by helicopter to Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only freestanding pediatric hospital.
The Pike County Sheriff’s Department will participate in Operation Troy Drop for the first time. Sheriff Russell Thomas attended the ceremony in Ozark and pledged the full support of his department. Thomas said he can count on the generosity of the people of Pike County to do their part to make this Christmas special for the patients at Children’s of Alabama.
Thomas said that all sheriffs in the Wiregrass and their deputies have a passion for people.
“In the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, we know, first hand, what it’s like to have a child with a serious illness or injury.” Thomas said. “Little EB Johnson, the daughter of our investigator Troy Johnson, was diagnosed with cancer. She went into remission but it came back. Sadly, EB lost her battle with cancer.
“Having a child with cancer is very taxing emotionally and financially on a family. They have to be away from home and there are so many expenses involved. The financial burden is such that many families can’t have Christmas. Operation Troy Drop makes it possible for all the young patients at Children’s of Alabama to have a special Christmas.
Kathy Bowers, media relation’s coordinator, Children’s of Alabama, said that law enforcement agencies across Alabama will collect toys for the children.
“Operation Troy Drop begins on Dec. 6 when officers and helicopters crews from 14 law enforcement agencies meet Santa Claus at the Bessemer Airport and load his packs of toys. Then Santa “flies” to the rooftop of Children’s McWane Building where he and his elves unload the bags of toy to be donated to Children’s Sugar Plum Shop.
“Parents of our patients are invited to shop at the Sugar Plum Shop. They may select five toys for their patient along with board games and books. They may also select a gift for each of the patient’s siblings.”
Bowers said, too, that many of the families are experiencing financial difficulties. The opportunity to shop at the Sugar Plum Shop helps to relieve some of that burden during the Christmas season.
“Each year, more than 500 children receive gifts from the Sugar Plum Shop,” Bowers said.
During Operation Toy Drop, the helicopters approach Children’s from one side and depart from the opposite side, giving all patients and families the opportunity to witness Santa’s flight regardless of where their rooms are located.
Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said that sheriff’s departments, on a daily basis, come in contact with two kids of people – bad people and good people who have made bad choices.
“Participating in Operation Toy Drop is an opportunity for us to be involved in something positive,” he said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to these families during these tough times. It is a chance for us to brighten little children’s days.”
Thomas said the Pike County Sheriff’s Department will enlist donations from individuals, businesses, churches, organizations and the fraternities and sororities at Troy University in support of Operation Toy Drop.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to do something really worthwhile for little children at Christmas time,” he said. “I can think of nothing greater we could do.”