BUCKHANNON – Christmas came a little early for a group of local children, thanks to the generosity of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department.
The department invited 28 children to the Upshur County Courthouse Friday, Dec. 20, to receive backpacks with gifts inside, and 19 children attended. Sheriff Dave Coffman said he and his staff wanted to do something to help children during the holiday season.
“After giving it a lot of thought, and some time working with (commissioner) Ms. Kristie Tenney and my staff, we were able to come up with this idea, and we reached out to the schools and made this happen today and I think it’s a wonderful event, just seeing all their happy faces is just wonderful,” Coffman said.
The department worked with UniCare, which partnered with Comfort Cases to provide backpacks to those in foster or kinship care throughout the state. Community relations representative with UniCare Emma Rexroad emphasized how important these bags can be.
“It’s important for these kids to get these bags so that they have something of their own,” Rexroad said. “A lot of kids who are in foster care or kinship care might go into a home where they might not have what they need readily available for them.”
The bags contain functional items such as pajamas, but also something fun like a toy or book.
“It’s things that they can take with them, if they have to move from a home,” Rexroad said. “It’s just something they can have to know they’re loved and this is their home.”
Upshur County Chief Tax Deputy for the Sheriff’s Department Heather Sparks said the distribution was made possible by working with school counselors.
“We worked with the counselors in the schools, and we could never have done it without their help,” Sparks remarked. “They were in contact with these children, they talked to their parents and they encouraged them to bring them,” Sparks said.
Sparks said the backpacks had blankets, pajamas, stuffed animals, coloring books, markers and different toiletries.