That's nearly double the number of children helped last year, said Lt. Lee Hoeksema of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.
“Even though the economy is improving, there’s still a lot of people with need,” he said.
Hoeksema said the Sheriff's Department was also able to help more kids because of donations from the host store, Wal-Mart — along with the Deputy Sheriffs Association, the Command Officers Association and some citizens.
The children, ranging in age from preschool through high school, were each given $75 and paired up with volunteers. The volunteers included Sheriff's Department office staff, and corrections and road patrol officers.
“We had 31 people show up (to volunteer) for the event,” Hoeksema said. “Every one of them was walking around with a big smile on their face.”
Hoeksema, who spent the afternoon playing photographer, said all of the kids came prepared.
“These kids all came with a list — for Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters,” he said. “If they had enough, then they spent some on themselves.”
When a few of the kids went over their limit by a few dollars, Hoeksema said he saw some of the officers dig into their own pockets to cover the shortfall.
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