The training room has come to look like the inside of a Toys R Us.
Trees dot the downstairs entrance and the second floor main room, which is filled with bicycles of all sizes.
And Sheriff Mike Harrison was still waiting for the folks at the Coastal Community Association of Gulf County and the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department to arrive back from their final shopping trip to WalMart.
Mix in a little snow and put aside the firearms and radios and the new Gulf County Sheriff’s Office facility would not appear much different than Santa’s North Pole this time of year.
“We have been doubly-blessed this year,” Harrison said. “The people of Gulf County are so generous and supportive of what we are trying to do.”
And that mission is to provide some Christmas cheer for those in the county who might not have much merriment on the upcoming calendar.
“Our plan each year is to get things out to the people in the county with the most need,” Harrison said.
The public schools provide a list identifying children of need, all of whom must qualify for free and reduced lunches.
After the schools, North Florida Child Development sweeps up a toy for every child at its facilities.
This year, in addition, it is not just about toys.
Every child and every family served will also receive a gift card to assist in purchasing groceries.
“Having a new toy or bike is great, but if there is no food on the table that doesn’t count for much,” Harrison said.
Older children will also receive a gift card to Bluewater Outriggers where they can shop for anything from a fishing rod to flip-flops.
“That’s what we can do to keep it local, which I like,” Harrison said. “Yes, for some things we have to go to WalMart, but I like working local with places like Bluewater or Piggly Wiggly.”
Any remaining toys or presents after the sheriff’s crew has completed distribution will likely be taken to Jackson County for distribution.
“We don’t want anything to go to waste and we want to serve as many families and children as we can,” Harrison said.
The primary funding for the toy drive comes from the Coastal Community Association and its Jingle Bell golf tournament as well as the CCA’s various drop-off points for gift donations.
The Murphy Family Foundation made a sizeable donation as did the Lions Club and many others followed suit with tax deductible cash donations.
“We have been so fortunate that the people of Gulf County are so generous,” Harrison said.