The spirit of giving fills many of our hearts this time of year and the same is true for one local Sheriff's Office. Every year the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office invites families in need to pick out some Christmas presents in their annual Shop With A Cop event.
A long line snaked around the old Food Country building on Highway 126 in Blountville with families bundled up, anxious to meet Santa and pick out gifts.
The Cook family patiently waited about an hour and a half and say getting inside the building is a gift in itself. "We're going to get these babies some toys that they probably wouldn't get otherwise, times are hard," added grandmother Patricia Cook.
This is the 11th year children in Sullivan County shopped with a cop. It's a two day toy drive to help struggling families by giving children 100 Deputy Dollars to buy Christmas gifts.
News 5 tagged along with nine-year-old Cheyanna Arnold as she picked out a doll and a craft. Her father, Claude Arnold, says an event like this is simply a big help, "It's a relief, there are some presents under the tree but not like you would like to have for your kids."
The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office estimates about 1,200 children will be helped this year. But the need continues to grow. "The first year we did this we had 40 children, then it went along about 100, jumped to 300, went to 500, 700, and then it jumped to 1,100," said Auxiliary Captain Alan Long.
We also learned families get to shop for clothing, all at no cost to them. "Some [families] come in without coats, without shoes and that way we can help them," added Long.
Some families say this event means so much more and it's a gift that keeps on giving. "Being that the kids get to pick it out and they can see what they're getting and know that people are caring enough to give to them. I think it does make a difference in their perspective," said mother of four Jessica Matherly.
The Sheriff's Office tells us about 800 children were invited to shop Saturday, those children were selected by area schools. Sunday, needy children in Sullivan County were able to pick out toys. The Sheriff's Office collects toys and donations throughout the year to put on this event.