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Officers spread Christmas joy to local families

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Operation Christmas Joy

Volunteers and officers load cars with food, clothes and toys as part of Operation Christmas Joy on Dec. 21 at the Essig Center in Rocky Mount.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office spread some joy to 37 area families and 121 children on Tuesday. Volunteers and officers came together at the Essig Center in Rocky Mount to pack cars full of clothes, food and toys just in time for Christmas.

This is the sixth year the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has provided assistance for area families for the holidays. The program continues to grow each year as additional donations and community support allows for the program to help even more families.

The program started six years ago by selling trees to raise money for the program. That ended a few years ago as the Christmas tree farm was no longer able to provide the trees due to a nationwide shortage.

While Christmas tree sales have ended, the program, now called Operation Christmas Joy, continues to grow each year. This year the effort grew to serve more than double the number of children that were in the program last year.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office works with Franklin County Public Schools to find area families in need that would benefit from the program.

“We are so grateful,” said H.L. Nolen with the sheriff’s office who helped organize the program this year. He said several businesses and residents in the community stepped up this year to help.

Franklin County Sheriff Bill Overton was also on hand to assist in the program on Dec. 21. He said this year’s Operation Christmas Joy had been “phenomenal.”

“The outpouring has been tremendous,” Overton said. “We could not do it without the partners that participate.”

An army of volunteers and officers helped load cars at the Essig Center in Rocky Mount. It was the last leg of Operation Christmas Joy. After weeks of collecting donations and shopping at local stores for clothes and gifts, cars were loaded up with gifts just in time for Christmas.

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