Tangelos, oranges and grapefruits are sold, annually, by athletic booster clubs and church groups as the holiday season begins. In Henry County, the Sheriff's Office has adopted the approach to generate funds to support its "Shop with a Deputy" Christmas program.
In the program, a deputy is paired with a child and given funds for a Christmas-buying spree. Sgt. Jimmie B. Spence said, often times, deputies would use their own money to help cover some of the costs.
"The ‘Shop With A Deputy' program gives an opportunity for our deputies to brighten up a child's Christmas," said Sheriff Keith McBrayer. "Most of these children would have very little for Christmas, if not for the volunteers from the department, and the help from the community."
"The first year of ‘Shop With A Deputy,' we only had 10 kids," said Sgt. Spence. Sheriff McBrayer headed the fund-raising program back then. He was a major in the sheriff's department at the time.
Last year, deputies shopped for 75 children. They spent more than $13,000 purchasing Christmas gifts.
"We have to see how well the fruit sales are before we determine how many kids we will help this year," said Spence.
Now is the time to be ordering the fruit, since the deadline for orders is a month away, on Dec. 5, he said. The fruit will be delivered on Dec. 14. The fruit is coming from a Florida farm.
"This is a win-win situation," said Spence, who leads the effort. "People can buy the fruit from us and get it at a low cost –– and fresh, with all of the proceeds staying in the county."
Fruit orders may be made online at www.henrycountysheriff.net, or people can visit the sheriff's office in McDonough, at 120 Henry Parkway.
Large bags of fruit sell for $10, and medium bags are $5. Decorative baskets of mixed fruit vary from $15, to $25.
"There are some generous people in Henry County that help make our programs possible," said Spence. Last year, deputies used the Whirlpool warehouse, located at 195 King Mill Road. It will be used again this year. Spence said organizers also are seeking corporate sponsors.
He said he wanted to pay special recognition to an unnamed businessman from Jasper, Ga., and Dr. Kevin Carson, a physician who lives with his wife in Eagles Landing.
He said the generosity and concern of the doctor, and his wife, along with that of the Jasper businessman, helped his department acquire the trailer, at no cost, that is used to transport the fruit to Henry County so it can be sold.