BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Christmas trees and decorations are already on display at many stores. It seems like that happens earlier and earlier each year. One thing that can never happen too early is the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office Christmas Crusade, which started this week.
Sheriff Jeff Wiley is always excited about this campaign. “And it exists, continues to exist, to make sure there’s not one kid in Ascension Parish that wakes up on Christmas morning and doesn’t have, enjoy the spirit of Christmas and the gift of giving, and a happy morning of toys and what you and I were blessed to have when we were younger,” Wiley explains.
APSO is now accepting monetary donations, and/or new toys to help make this Christmas an enjoyable one for families.
“We’re gonna' do over 400 families this year. Excuse me, and over 1,000 kids this year,” Wiley said with a huge smile on his face! “The demand keeps growing. And the support keeps growing for us to be able to do this. It’s a labor of love.”
Ascension Parish residents needing assistance can now apply for this year’s program. Applications may be obtained from the sheriff’s offices at the Donaldsonville Courthouse, the Gonzales Business Sub-Station, the Gonzales Business Office, or the Family Services Division at the Gonzales Courthouse. Applicants will need to bring a current SNAP printout or copies of each child’s birth certificate, a valid Louisiana photo ID, proof of income, and a copy of a current Ascension Parish utility bill (showing proof of residency). The deadline for submitting applications is Friday, November 16.
For those wishing to donate toys or cash, every single donation will be used specifically for the children of Ascension Parish.
“Every penny donated gets generated right back into the kids. There’s no admin, there’s no bookkeeping fees, or any of those kinds of things,” Wiley said. “And then on December 11 at 6:30 p.m., we’ll have a shopping night at Walmart in Gonzales and Donaldsonville. If you want to catch the Christmas spirit early, you can come out and shop with us. It is a real and interesting, real compelling experience.”
And the sheriff says they don’t just shop for random items, they work off wish lists and get kids the exact toy they want. “This is a pretty sophisticated deal. A 9-year-old kid, for example, tells us she wants this kind of doll and this kind of play toy, and we get that from them," he said.
The entire parish gets involved with shopping: kids, school organization like the BETA club, church groups, other sheriffs, even inmates from the parish prison.
“And you’re gonna get 30, 40 dollars’ worth of gifts right there,” Wiley proudly explains.
Remember, the deadline to apply for assistance is Friday, November 16.
For additional information, to volunteer, or to request assistance, contact: