LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - This Christmas marks the 17th year that the Leesburg Police Department has led a toy collection for Lee County foster families.
The toy drive started small, but over time, thousands of toys have been collected, bringing more joy under the Christmas tree for foster children.
For the man who started the program, it's an especially meaningful year.
On Tuesday, the inside of Leesburg's City Hall looked more like Santa's workshop as an employee wrapped large, plain cardboard boxes, transforming them into festive toy collection bins.
"When we first started this, we were really struggling to get stuff out to people. And, it has gotten bigger and bigger," said Leesburg Police Chief Charles Moore, who started the foster children toy drive in 2000.
In 2016, hundreds of toys were collected, two trailer loads full.
Chief Moore acknowledged this year will be different for him. Moore has stage four liver cancer, his third bout with cancer.
"It's special for me this year because I have a lot going on. But, with all of our departments, with the Sheriff's Department, my fellow officers, the community's help, I just hope we have a big year for our children because we have 38 kids."
The Sheriff's Office and the Lee County Fire Department also sponsor the toy drive.
"It is sad when you see certain things going on in your neighborhood, with certain kids, and certain things going on in their lives that you don't like, but you try to make it better for them by giving them some toys to enjoy," said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals.
Despite dealing with his own personal health crisis, Chief Moore keeps the focus on the foster children living in Lee County, and hopes people will help make it another successful toy collection.
"It's just getting to be a big program, but it's a community program, it's not about one person, or one agency, it is about everyone helping out the children," said Moore.
Starting Wednesday, the collection bins will be inside every Dollar General in Lee County, the Leesburg Police Department, Lee County Sheriff's Office, and the Lee County fire stations.
All new, unwrapped gifts and monetary donations are gratefully accepted.
Foster children age 13 and older receive gift cards with the monetary donations.
For more information, contact the Leesburg Police Department at 229-759-6464.
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