Every December, members of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office wake up in the early morning hours on a weekday, go to the Target on Park Street and Tyrone Boulevard, and fill carts with toys and household necessities for families in need throughout Pinellas County. Men and women in uniform scour the aisles for the perfect gifts for these families.
Their personal touch in selecting these unique gifts--like a firetruck for a child who dreams of being a first responder, or a notepad and pencils for a child who desperately needs school supplies--shines on Christmas Day when families that are going through hardship open them with joy. Instead of seeing a bare Christmas tree, or no tree at all, they are able to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones.
These joyous moments are only made possible through the support of the community during our annual Ride & Run With The Stars fundraising event, which funds the Christmas Sharing Project and covers the cost of the holiday shopping event at Target. For more than 25 years, the sheriff’s office has organized this 5K, 25-mile bike ride, 10K family bike ride, and 1-mile family run, walk, or skate. Not only can families and individuals participate in these athletic challenges, but they can also enjoy a full day of fun, including watching a fly-in visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus on the sheriff’s office helicopter; bidding in a silent auction filled with amazing prizes; making arts and crafts in the kids zone; seeing our Canine Unit up close and personal; and enjoying delicious food from our sponsors—just to name a few.
Ride & Run With The Stars, which lands on December 7th this year, is the largest law enforcement-organized holiday charity fundraiser in the Tampa Bay Area. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has raised more than $500,000 in donations and proceeds since its inception over 25 years ago.
Although several organizations coordinate holiday fundraisers and charity events, the sheriff’s office has the unique opportunity to give back to children and families with whom they have met and interacted with, sometimes on multiple occasions. Putting names and faces to the recipients of our holiday giving is added incentive to the men and women in uniform who dedicate additional time and effort to benefitting the less fortunate during the season.
If you are interested in getting involved with Ride & Run With The Stars, whether by registering for a race, ordering a t-shirt, sponsoring the event, or making a donation, please contact Sergeant Brady at 727-582-6287, and visit www.rideandrunwiththestars.com for more information.
In the meantime, let the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office be the first to wish you Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, and happy giving!
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