Hundreds of donated toys sit underneath a Christmas tree in the 8th Circuit Solicitor's Office. The toys will be given to children for the holiday.
(Matt Bruce | Index-Journal)
Visitors to the 8th Circuit Solicitor's Office this month will be greeted by a burgeoning bouquet of holiday benevolence.
More than 200 toys sit beneath a Christmas tree in the office's lobby as part of a toy drive spearheaded by the four-county prosecutor's bureau.
"It's something that this office has done for a number of years, even dating back to (former) Solicitor Townes Jones," 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo said. "It's been well over 10 years since they've been doing this, so it's a great tradition that we're glad to continue on."
The toy giveaway comes from two of the circuit's diversion programs - pre-trial intervention (PTI) and alcohol education program (AEP) - that are offered to first-time nonviolent offenders. The programs allow participants to do community service in lieu of prosecution. Officials noted those who donate items for the toy drive can reduce the required number of hours needed to satisfy conditions of their community service.
Stumbo said the effort is tied to Angel Tree, a nationwide nonprofit program run through the Prison Fellowship ministry, which allows prison inmates to submit the names of their children and list gifts they might want for the holidays. PTI and AEP participants have been submitting toys for the drive since midsummer and will have until Dec. 16 to donate more items. A mountainous collection of bikes, dolls, toy cars, games, Legos and other items lines the front entrance at the Solicitor's Office. Stumbo said he expects more toys to pour in by the mid-December cutoff.
The drive is a branch of the school-supply giveaway, which allowed the office to donate hundreds of back-to-school items to students in all eight districts across the circuit in August. Stumbo said he began the school-supply drive as part of his administration, splitting up what had been a yearlong toy drive in years past, to offer back-to-school items for less fortunate children as well.
Officials indicated the same PTI and AEP programs from which participants donated supplies for that drive are responsible for the toy drive donations. Donors began purchasing toys for the Angel Tree push in July and have been bringing them in since.
All four counties (Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry) in the 8th Circuit will take part in the giveaway. The toys will be distributed through The Salvation Army in Greenwood, and in Abbeville a Methodist church will hand the presents to underprivileged children.
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