Donations are being accepted for the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office's Santa Sheriff program.
Deputy Brian Keis, program coordinator, recently said fundraising efforts are in full swing and donations are still coming in. Keis continues to send out letters to county businesses to help raise more money, as the program has received $1,000 less than organizers hoped.
Previous fundraisers include monthly basket giveaways and letters to area businesses seeking local support through monetary donations. The donations will help the program purchase gifts for families in the community.
The Santa Sheriff's Program, modeled after a similar initiative in Texas, began in 2004 and has been steadily growing. Partnering agencies and schools raise money and refer less fortunate Cattaraugus County families to the program. Gifts are purchased at area businesses.
Youth and volunteers from area schools and other county agencies wrap the gifts and package them for delivery.
In 2004, the goal had been to serve five families; the program grew to 26 families in 2010 and 2011 providing a total of 117 men, women and children.
The families were provided gifts, as well as a complete Christmas dinner, along with dry goods donated through the efforts of the staff and students at the Salamanca Middle School.
The program hopes to raise the money to provide Christmas to 40 families this year.
As in the past years, the Sheriff's Office has also pledged funding to the program through a donation from the Employees' Association and the Supervisor Units, as well as receiving donations from the CSEA Supervisory Unit.
Keis sees the Santa Sheriff's Program as, "a way for us to give back to the community." Fundraising efforts continue to grow each year adding new partners.
This year the program is looking to raise nearly $10,000 so that the needs of area families can be met.
For more information about donating to the Santa Sheriff Program, call Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb at 938-9191, ext. 2247, or Deputy Brian Keis at 938-9191, ext. 2899.
Contributions can be made payable to the Santa Sheriff's Fund, c/o Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office, 301 Court St., Little Valley, NY 14755.