By Tia Lynn Lecorchick

By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Special to the Citizen The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office is conducting their annual Empty Stocking Fund, accepting donations of new toys to be distributed to underprivileged children this Christmas. “It benefits many children and needy families.

We don’t just give one gift, we usually fill children’s entire wish-lists full most years. It just depends on how many donations we receive,” said Olivia Laborn, administrative assistant to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, who has participated in the Empty Stocking Fund for the past 11 years.

The Empty Stocking Fund has become a valued tradition for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, beginning over 15 years ago under the previous sheriff and carried on by Sheriff Robert Markley when he was elected in 2001.

The Georgia State Patrol has also partnered with the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign in conjunction with the local Sheriff’s Office Empty Stocking Fund to collect and distribute donated gifts for underprivileged children this Christmas. Patrol officers will be stationed at Madison Wal-Mart stores on Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 to accept donations, specifically asking for new, unwrapped gifts suitable for children.

“The Marine Reserve Corps already donated 600 new toys to the Empty Stocking Fund,” said Laborn. “We also get donations from schools, businesses, churches, local organizations, and citizens.” “But Morgan County citizens are not just generous with their money, but also with their time. We have several volunteers who come in and help with the application process and help pack Christmas boxes for the children. The volunteers look forward to it because they love to make other people happy,” said Laborn. The last chance for families in need to apply for the Empty Stocking Fund was Dec. 4.

To be eligible, applicants must live in Morgan County, be recipients of DFCS, provide a picture ID and social security number, for themselves and the children they are applying for. Children must also live with the parent applying. Gifts will be distributed on Dec. 18. Donations to the Empty Stocking Fund can be dropped off at the Sheriff’s Office Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations can also be mailed in, addressed to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office Empty Stocking Fund at 1380 Monticello Rd. in Madison.

The Empty Stocking Fund only accepts new toys, not used ones. For more information, contact the Sheriff’s Office at 706-342-1507. Donations can also be dropped off at the Georgia State Patrol Post in Madison, located at 1060 Monticello Hwy., open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, contact the Georgia State Patrol Post 8 in Madison at 706-343-5870. “It’s out of the kindness of the sheriff’s heart and of the hearts of Morgan County citizens that we are able to do this. We will gladly continue to do this every year as long as we have the community’s help,” said Laborn.