LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB)- For decades, Project 25 has been bringing smiles to the faces of children in need all across Bay County.
Project 25 has been around 39 years, to be exact, and this year it’s bigger than ever. With over 1,300 kids to buy toys for, this year’s shopping day was so big that organizers had to double the trip, shopping in both the morning and evening.
Through the assistance of deputies and community members, carts were filled with toys and goodies for children to wake up to this Christmas.
“It’s people helping people. If we can’t help each other after the devastation that we’ve all been through last year, that’s what the Sheriff’s office is all about,” said Project 25 Coordinator, Becky Johns.
Becky Johns has been the coordinator of project 25 for 35 years and to her, it holds a deeper meaning.
“There’s nothing more heartbreaking than going to bed on Christmas Eve and thinking that a child is going to wake up with nothing. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Johns.
Bay County Sheriff, Tommy Ford, said seeing his team help kids in need means the world.
“Christmas is such a magical time and we know people are hurting out there and that times are tough, but to be able to be a part of providing a good Christmas for them, it really means a lot to us,” said Ford.
Sheriff Ford has been a part of Project 25 even before his term as Sheriff. He says he hopes the annual toy drive goes on for future decades.
“It’s a big part of the culture of the Sheriff’s Office and it’s our way to give back to the community and our way to be involved in the community and I just am so grateful for the sheriff’s that came before me that kept this tradition alive. Hitting 40 years of this next year, it really is just heartwarming,” said Ford.
For those who still want to donate to Project 25 whether it be through toys or monetary donations, there’s still time, just contact the Bay County Sheriff’s office.
The toys will be distributed to the parents of the selected children on Thursday, December 12th.