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PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE

This year has been met with a whirlwind of emotion. For some, fear, loss, loneliness, isolation and anxiousness may define their year. For others, joy, appreciation, comfort and family. And for many, a mixture of both. But if 2020 taught us one thing, it’s that we always accomplish more as a unified community.

As the year unfolded, COVID-19 changed how all of us live and work. We have all had to find ways to adapt to what has become our new normal. Yet, despite the many changes in work and personal lives, countless good people in Broward County have continued to take every opportunity to give back, help meet a need, show support, extend resources and virtually come together.

Despite the push for physical distancing, I’ve witnessed people taking every opportunity to give back, help meet a need, show support, extend resources and virtually come together.

As a public safety agency, we know public safety isn’t only about protecting our citizens but striving to better our communities. I am moved by the overwhelming generosity and heartfelt acts of kindness from the men and women of BSO. Aside from their primary responsibilities, these individuals looked for alternative ways to serve this community.

From helping a homeless mother and child pay for a hotel stay for a week to helping a single mother who lost her job get her electricity turned back on, our deputies found ways to help where it was needed most. Other deputies gifted a homeless father of two young children with new shoes and socks for his kids. Another employee from our Civil Division spearheaded a food collection drive resulting in the donation of more than 800 pounds of food to provide for those in need. These acts demonstrate true care and commitment and highlight the exceptional ways in which our personnel go above and beyond – not just today, but every day.

These generous acts of kindness were also displayed by the community towards law enforcement. From countless cards, crafts, prayers and delicious meals donated from local restaurants and community residents, our agency has received an overwhelming show of support and appreciation from this community. A young 11-year-old boy named Zechariah, who runs in honor of fallen heroes, added two more miles to his 609-mile record to remember the lives of Deputy Shannon Bennett and Lt. Al Rengifo, who we lost earlier this year. During times of protests and nationwide unrest, we had an opportunity to listen. We prayed together. We dialogued. We came together in support of equality and justice for all.

Witnessing these genuine acts of goodness take place across this county during a time when it is needed most has been a heartwarming experience. People simply helping people. People whose names they may never know and who they may never meet. But giving back and showing support because it’s the benevolent thing to do. It’s things like this that truly make Broward County a special place to live.

At BSO, we, too, have worked through this pandemic and looked for opportunities to identify areas where we may help lessen the burden on residents across Broward County. Through Operation Helping Hands and our food drives, BSO has partnered with community-based organizations to provide groceries and individual meals to thousands of individuals and families experiencing financial hardships countywide. This assistance will continue as long as there is a need in this community.

In the spirit of the season, we have continued our tradition of partnering with local organizations and the Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council to provide turkeys and Thanksgiving meal baskets to families in need. For the first time, our Department of Detention personnel volunteered to distribute more than 300 Thanksgiving meals donated by Calvary Chapel to families of inmates housed at Broward jails. The hope was to ease the financial burden and alleviate the stress associated with having a loved one incarcerated.

Our holiday outreach will continue during the month of December in partnership with the Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward County. Though our annual in-person Shop with the Sheriff event is canceled, we still believe it is important to reward students who excel in and out of the classroom. This year, 400 deserving youth will receive a Walmart gift card along with a new toy donated by BSO personnel as part of our agency-wide toy drive.

And with that, I say what else? I want to go the extra mile and extend this offer to you. If you know a family who could use some support and cheer this holiday season, BSO wants to know about it. For a chance to be selected, please follow me on social media @bsosherifftony and send a message about why this family should be chosen. The winner will be contacted by December 13.

I’m inspired by this community’s display of unity and brotherhood. I couldn’t be more proud and honored to serve alongside such dedicated and incredible people. On behalf of the men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, from our family to yours, we wish you a safe, healthy and fulfilling holiday season!