The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office’s Toy Patrol is entering its fourth year. The patrol aims to help children ages 3-11 in Dickson County in low-income families by providing them with the items that are donated by the community.
The event started just over four years ago when Deputy Dustin Evans found himself with some extra toys in his possession. “We had some toys that were donated to us by my neighbors,” Evans says, “It was overwhelming.”
Evans and another deputy decided to go to the Charlotte Dollar General where they handed out the toys to kids entering or leaving the store before heading to Vanleer to do the same thing. Evans says that while they were in Vanleer, he was approached by someone who said she knew of a family who could benefit from the extra toys. She didn’t know where they lived exactly, and only gave them a street. Evans says what happened next is a Godsend.
“We were sitting down to dinner and right before we got our meal, we had a call come out,” Evans says, recalling the evening. “When we got there on the scene, we made contact with the homeowner and we’re asking her routine questions…she starts naming off [who is in the house] and I pull out my note pad…and it happened to be that same family,” Evans continues.
The year following became the First Annual Toy Patrol, which was in the hallway at the Dickson Housing Authority. Evans says that over the years the event has grown, allowing them to use the Tennsco Community Center for this year’s event where kids will have a chance to meet Santa and get their gifts.
How are kids chosen for the event? Evans says the department works with the schools in order to determine who could benefit the most from the event. “We get names from the teachers, and we’ll send an invitation home with the student and we ask them to RSVP.” Evans says of their process. “The teachers have direct contact with the students, so they know which students could benefit from this program,” Evans says.
As the Sheriff’s Office gears up for this year’s Toy Patrol, they’re doing so with a heavy heart. The department is dedicating this year’s Toy Patrol in honor of Sgt. Daniel Baker, who died in the line of duty in May. “Daniel gave a lot to our community,” Evans says “Daniel would always make sure that we were able to have this event and make it a success. Whether it would be letting me off a little early or him coming in a working for me. Our theme behind this is ‘honor a hero, help a child.’ Daniel met a lot to everyone and all of us.” Evans continues. “I couldn’t ask for a better friend.”
The Toy Patrol will be accepting donations until December 1. Acceptable items include new and unused toy items appropriate for ages 3-11. Winter clothing items will also be accepted. Donations can be dropped either at the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office in Charlotte or at the EMS building in Dickson.
This year’s toy patrol will be on December 16.