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Deputy group on toy duty

December 16, 1997

Deputy group on toy duty

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Atop the pile of clothes and toys in Carina Roberts' shopping cart sat a Hug 'n' Tug Wheels police car that will be sitting beneath a deserving child's Christmas tree in a few days.

The choice of gift is appropriate, because the squeezable squad car was purchased with funds raised by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputies Association.

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Half a dozen deputies and two dispatchers from the department combed the aisles of Kmart Tuesday, armed with search warrants for clothes and toys submitted by a dozen families that deputies "adopted."

Roberts, a dispatcher, was shopping for an 11-year-old boy and a 17-month-old infant on her list. Dinosaurs are big again this year, judging from some of the other toys in her cart and that of Sgt. Dennis Streets.

"The families are people we meet throughout the year," said Deputy T.M. Snyder, president of the association. The association raises money during the year to help hard-pressed families have a merrier Christmas.

The deputies do the shopping and then deliver the gifts to the parents.

"We want to be that invisible Santa," Snyder said.

This year the deputies had a budget of $100 per child for the 25 children on their lists, Snyder said. He said Kmart helped the money go a bit farther by giving a 10 percent discount on their purchases.

"We're talking about families where the mother and father both work. They can pay the rent and the bills and that's it," Snyder said of the type of families they adopt. In his cart was a Batmobile "With Ice Shatter Missile and Vine Attack Blades!" the box proclaimed.

The sheriff's association isn't the only law enforcement group brightening the holidays for Eastern Panhandle kids.

Earlier in the month, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 83 took a large group of kids through Kmart for a shopping spree. The state police barracks in Martinsburg, Berkeley Springs and Charles Town, W.Va., have been collecting toys for the Salvation Army.

Last week there were just a few toys at the Martinsburg barracks, but donations poured in over the weekend, Sgt. J.A. Humphrey said on Monday.

The deputies association has been buying presents for kids for almost 20 years, Snyder said. The tradition was started by current Chief Deputy John Vanorsdale, who was among those pushing a cart Tuesday.

With two children getting bicycles for gifts, one deputy rolled a cart up to Snyder containing helmets, among other presents.

"I had to get them helmets," he explained. "It's the law."

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