Village at Deaton Creek residents played the role of Santa Claus on Monday, loading up toys and bicycles with the help of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
The gesture was part of the South Hall neighborhood’s yearly effort to help the sheriff’s office provide Christmas toys for needy families through Hall-Dawson Court Appointed Special Advocates.
“I want to thank you so much for doing this,” Sheriff Steve Cronic told a crowd gathered in the subdivision’s clubhouse. “...This might be, for some of the (children), the only time they’ve ever had anything on Christmas morning.”
Residents had placed the presents in a large semicircle around a tree near the clubhouse entrance. The large haul included 13 bicycles.
“I cannot believe what you have done this year,” Cronic said.
The subdivision off Thompson Mill Road has sponsored the program for four years, started by residents Walter and Cindy Scott.
They collect the toys through donations, area businesses and sponsoring the annual Scrooge Classic, a golf tournament and luncheon at the Hamilton Mill Golf Club in Dacula.
Cronic recalled the program’s beginnings. He got a call from one of the residents saying, “Sheriff, we’ve got a surprise for you.”
“I didn’t know quite what to expect. Sheriffs don’t normally like surprises,” he said, laughing.
The first year, the subdivision provided for eight families. Last year, 12 families were helped.
“And a lot of these families have a lot of kids,” Cronic said.
As part of the program with the sheriff’s office, CASA helps identify needy families and distribute the toys.
“This really helps us,” Cronic said of the program’s impact on the sheriff’s office.
“We spend a lot of our time dealing with the worst parts of our community and some of the saddest stories.”
Connie Stephens, Hall-Dawson CASA director, also praised the neighborhood’s efforts.
“This helps assure that every single child that we serve gets Christmas,” she said. “So many of them are so deprived that they are lucky if they get anything.”
Larry Viola, chairman of the neighborhood event, said the residents were able to gather a wide variety of toys through the generous efforts of many.
“We have different age groups covered,” he said.