Almost 180 children in Hempstead County are having a happier Christmas this year thanks to the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office second annual Operation Christmas program.
The children and their families gathered outside the Walmart Garden Center Saturday morning, waiting for Santa to arrive with his entourage of helpers which included law enforcement, EMS and other volunteers.
Santa arrived with a hail of sirens, waving to the children from the top hatch of an armored vehicle and escorted by a parade of patrol vehicles and ambulances.
Santa led the large crowd into the Garden Center where Walmart associates had Christmas-themed donuts and juice for everyone. After a quick welcome by Sheriff James Singleton and a prayer from JP Jessie Henry, children were paired up with the volunteers and sent off on their Christmas shopping spree.
Operation Christmas was organized by the Sheriff’s Office for the first time last year and was able to provide gifts to around 70 children. In its second year, Operation Christmas was able to provide $200 for Christmas gifts for 179 children from around Hempstead County.
Members of the Hemptead County Sheriff’s Office, Hope Police Department, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Highway Police, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Railroad Police, Pafford EMS and volunteers from Rafter J Cowboy Church and Unity Baptist Church took the kids around Walmart to buy whatever they wanted.
Once the kids had made their selections, the officers used gift cards to purchase the gifts and took them to be wrapped by volunteers.
Walmart Store Manager Kacey Barrington said, “We’re just glad to be able to give back to the community.”
Sheriff James Singleton said, “It’s just a blessing to be able to do this. We couldn’t do this without the people of Hempstead County. It’s just amazing how the businesses, the merchants and the private individuals stepped up. I just want to thank everyone so much from the bottom of my heart. Have a Merry Christmas. We’ll do it all again next year.”
Business donors: Diamond Bank, B&R Building Supply, Pit Stop Tire & Lube, Madlock’s Auto Glass & Body Shop, Paradise Quick Stop, Reese’s Towing & Auto Repair, Rothwell Marine, Heather Manor, Rolling Right Auto Service, Nail Spa, Pioneer Printers, El Agaves, Townsend Outdoor, Hope Tire & Wheel, 13 Brothers Meat Market, JB Cook Auto Supply, Sheba’s, Walker Realty, Razorback Tanz, Do’s Loco Gringos, Landed Towing, Wylie Glass & Salvage, Razorback Jack’s, Rowe’s Leather, Fred Korenek Diesel Repair, Western Auto, B&L Exterminating, Boll Weevil Pawn, Hope Floral, Hope Outdoor Power & Equipment, Southern Bakeries, Rae-Tay’s, Southern Bakeries, The Tavern, Bartlett Motors, Save-A-Lot, Five Star Auto Sales, The Farm Store, Martin’s, Parrish Equipment, Amigo Juan, Union Pacific Railroad and Pafford EMS.