More than 50 families in Livingston County were surprised with gifts from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday as part of the office’s annual Secret Santa event.
By BRITTANY TUTT
More than 50 families in Livingston County were surprised with gifts from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday as part of the office’s annual Secret Santa event. These gifts were made possible through generous donations from citizens and businesses who have partnered with Sheriff Steve Cox and the LCSO staff.
A total of 35 cured and smoked hams and turkeys purchased from the Chillicothe Meat Locker were delivered to individuals in the community Tuesday, eight families received gift cards and eight more families received special gifts, such as, financial help with medications, financial help with utility bills, and a family vacation. The LCSO office hopes that by these random acts of kindness they make lasting impressions on the lives of others.
“Each year we keep our eyes and ears open and submit names of good people who may be in need of a hand up instead of a hand out. We also try to treat a few awesome and law abiding citizens that should be recognized and rewarded for their great citizenship,” Cox said. “These are good families that do nice things for others.”
Cox explained they handed out Christmas gifts to people that, by no fault of their own, have found themselves in tough and unfortunate life situations.
“With our partners we have been able to help a wide variety of people in different situations, some which still bring tears to our eyes. Our partners have enabled us to give some families wonderful lifelong memories and for us to make friends who would otherwise never had contact with a deputy or sheriff,” Cox said.
The LCSO gave gifts to a brother and sister who recently lost their mother, a mom and dad who recently lost a son, and a family that recently lost all of their personal belongings in a fire.
This is the fifth year the LCSO hosted the Secret Santa event; however, this is the first year the has invited a citizen to tag along for the festivities. This year, an 8-year-old Field Elementary School student named Lily got to join the sheriff as he distributed gifts.
Cox invited Lily to come along this year after reading her Santa letter submitted to the Constitution-Tribune office. While most children’s lists consisted of numerous toys, games, etc., Lily wrote, “Something I need is to give to poor kids because some people do not celebrate Christmas.”
“Santa came and asked us if we could help him give Lily one of her Christmas wishes,” Cox said.
When Lily was asked why she wanted to be able to give to others this Christmas she said, “Because some forget the spirit of Christmas because they don’t know about God.”
What she was most excited about was “giving gifts to a family that lost everything in a fire.”
This family was Stan and Tiffany Reed of Chula and their three children: Leah, 3; Oliver, 4; and Nikolas, 8. The Reed’s also have a child on the way that’s due in April.
The Reeds had lived in their home for just three months before it caught fire.
“We thought we had found our dream home,” Stan said.
Their dream home burned down on October 19 of this year at 1 a.m.
“We were all asleep... We were lucky to all get out alive,” Stan said.
The LCSO gave the Reeds pots, pans, Christmas ornaments and an all-expense paid trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kan. Lily brought the Reed children a few of her toys as well.
“When the sheriff told us we were getting a trip, we were really excited and we knew the children would be ecstatic,” Tiffany said.
The Reed children said they lost almost all of their toys in the fire and they were excited to receive Lily’s gifts. In fact, Leah said when she gets back from her trip to the Great Wolf Lodge she can’t wait to make cupcakes with the cupcake maker Lily gave her. However, the Reeds aren’t leaving for their trip until mid-January, and Lily and her brothers were already baking by the time everyone left their house Tuesday.
Tiffany said she thought what Lily wrote in her Santa letter was really neat.
“What kid writes that in their Santa letter,” Tiffany asked in disbelief. “It’s good our kids get to see this kindness. It’s a good example and encourages people to give whether it’s a little or a lot.”
The Reeds said they have been helped by numerous people in the community since the fire – most of whom were strangers.
“It really makes you appreciate living in a small community,” Tiffany said.
Lily delivered gifts with the sheriff all day and said she enjoyed being able to give to others, share the spirit of God with people and she also enjoyed seeing people’s faces as they received the unexpected gifts. She said people were “impressed and happy” when they got their gifts, and it made her feel good on the inside to help.
At the end of the day, Cox and the sheriff’s office staff treated Lily to a shopping trip at the Chillicothe Bootery where she got new pink cheetah cowgirl boots, a new pair of jeans, a shirt, boot socks and a pink cowgirl hat.
“She had done so much for others that we wanted to spoil her a little,” Cox said.
Lily’s mother, Eden, said she has tried to raise Lily to have a giving heart.
“I’ve tried to teach her to be respectful and have good manners... We’ve taught her that Christmas is about giving, not taking and it’s about celebrating Jesus’ birthday and spending time together as a family,” Eden said. “We eat together, we pray together and we go to church every Sunday.”
Lily was also interviewed by a reporter from Fox 4 News of Kansas City Tuesday night. She got in front of the camera and talked about why she wanted to give to the less fortunate this Christmas and she said she wanted to tell them all about God.
“We saw tears, smiles, people that were speechless... we had some very heartwarming moments today,” Cox said.