More than 15 percent of Gulf County’s children live below the poverty line, according to the most recent estimates by the Census Bureau. Nationwide, the youth poverty rate is expected to rise with new counts.
These numbers trouble Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison, his office and the many volunteers who come together every year to make sure all of Gulf County’s children can receive a gift for the holidays.
“Things are going really good,” Harrison said. “Obviously, the community is always stepping up to the plate and helping us out during this, and it looks like the need this year will probably exceed the need from years before.”
“I’m confident we’ll be able to meet the need and put some smiles on faces Christmas morning.”
This year, the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office is joined by many organizations from around the community with the hopes of making this the largest toy drive to date.
Last Sunday, members of the community participated in the Jingle Bell Golf Tournament to raise money for the program.
Pat Hardman, one of the tournament’s organizers, said the event was a huge success.
“We want to thank all our local merchants who donated the prizes for the tournament,” she said, “St Joe Shrimp Company, St Joseph Bay Golf Club, ACE Hardware of PSJ, Portside Trading Company, Scallop Cove, Sisters Bistro, ACE Hardware of Apalachicola, Beach Planet, Quatro Loco Taco, Penelope Pet Shop, Shaggy Bay Supper Club, Piggly Wiggly, Blue Water Sportsman, Zoe Seefer Neck & amp; Back Center, and Russell’s Repairs . The Ladies Golf Association made a donation and brought in toys. All of these folks joined Robyn Rennick and the other volunteers who stepped up to help make the tournament a success, please let them know we appreciate them.”
The Sheriff’s office hopes to gather holiday gifts for almost 300 children this year, who are selected with help from the school district and other organizations serving the county’s families and youth, like the Two Fish Market.
“It’s just kind of grown a little bit every year,” said Harrison, who has been the county’s sheriff since 2013. “We’re just glad to be able to help more folks out each year, and again, we couldn’t do it without the community.”
The deadline to make a donation is Dec. 13. Make a donation to Coastal Community Initiative (CCAs 501 c 3 tax deductible arm- 1934 SR 30 A, PSJ, Fla, 32456) or to the Sheriff’s Office. To drop off a new toy, you can visit one of several community drop-off locations, including the Sheriff’s Office.