It's a holiday tradition in Cattaraugus County. The annual Santa Sheriff's Program is now in its ninth season. YNN's Mark Goshgarian tells us about the community effort to help make the holidays brighter for families in need.
LITTLE VALLEY, N.Y. — "It's all about the giving and if you can make some child happy, then it's a wonderful thing," said Deputy Brian Keis, Program Coordinator.
The Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office has been giving back to those in need through its Santa Sheriff's Program.
It started in 2004, helping five families that first year. They hope to help up to 30 families this year.
"It's just the joy and satisfaction to know that you've made a difference in somebody's life, and I think that's the premise behind the whole program," said Keis.
The department raised about $6,300 so far through monthly basket raffles and community donations. Deputies will then make their list, check it twice, and buy food and gifts like toys and boardgames, and winter clothing.
"Hats, a lot of families end up needing this time of year, winter coats and boots, and gloves things like that," said Keis.
To help identify the names of area families in need, the Sheriff's Office relies on several community agencies, including the Department of Social Services at the Cattaraugus County Office building in Olean.
"It's good to help other families have the best Christmas they can," said Dan Piccioli, Social Services Deputy Commissioner.
Piccioli says most of the department's referrals come from its child protection and child welfare units.
"It's a strengthening for the workers to see that their case loads are progressing in a manner that may not have if not for this program," said Piccioli.
A program that, for Keis, has come full circle.
"We had a family which we helped back in 2009 come in and make a donation, to help with the program, so that's a wonderful thing to see," said Keis.
The department will make its deliveries the week of December 17th.
You can donate to the Santa Sheriff's Program year-round. For more information or to make a donation contact the Sheriff's Office at 716-938-9191, extensions 2899 or 2247.