By REBECCA HAZEN
The Dade County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a host of events for the Christmas season, both old and new, so that every family in Dade County can enjoy the holidays this year.
The first annual, free Christmas Crossing event, in conjunction with the Hope for the Holidays, in memory of Philip Street, will be Saturday, Dec. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m. on the Courthouse Square. The rain date will be Dec. 11.
“We wanted to extend this to all the kids of Dade County, not just the families that are in need at the time of the holidays,” School Resource Officer Amanda Lind said. “We wanted to let the kids have fun.”
Christmas Crossing will consist of booths, or “train stations,” and hay “train” rides. There will be different Christmas activities at each booth, sponsored by different local businesses.
For example, a coffee and hot chocolate station will be manned by the Dade County Sheriff’s Office and Choo Choo Kettle Corn will run the popcorn station. Integer will oversee an ornament making station, and Vanguard will have a photo booth station. Uncle Lar’s will have a cookie decorating station, and Trenton Ministry Center will have a cotton candy station. There will be a hot dog station, sponsored by Vanguard, and a picture with Santa station, sponsored by Teleflex. There will also be a stocking decoration station, with decoration items donated by Certified Collision, Lookout Mountain Flight Park, Gross Furniture, Chattanooga Industrial Motors, Reeves Heating & Air, Trenton Telephone, and Roof Curb.
In addition, there will be a coloring contest. Officer Lind will give a coloring page to the children at the elementary schools, and they can bring the finished coloring page to the event to be entered into the contest.
“We feel we should do something for our children in this county. That is our main priority,” Sheriff Ray Cross said.
“We’re trying to present the kids of Dade County, which can be on the lower scale economically, the same things that kids in bigger cities get. We’re just trying to make it a wonderful family event,” Major Barry Irwin said.
The Christmas Crossing event is free, and the Sheriff’s Office asks, if possible, to donate new and unwrapped toys.
The gift donations are accepted for the Sheriff’s Office annual Hope for the Holidays event.
“When Philip Street was Sheriff, he started this, and it has continued. Since Philip has passed, we are doing it now in his memory,” Cross said. “We have a 501(c)(3) fund for it. We collect toys throughout the year, and we give them out.”
Hope for the Holidays benefits low-income families, by providing Christmas gifts to children ages 1-15.
Monetary donations are also accepted. Hope for the Holidays does not except clothes, bicycles or electronic items.
The donations will be given out to family members on Saturday, Dec. 11.
Applications for Hope for the Holidays are accepted through Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. Applications are available at all Dade County Schools, and at the Sheriff’s Office.
Another opportunity to drop off gift donations will be at the Cruise-in on the Courthouse Square event, on Saturday, Nov. 13, from noon to 6 p.m.
In addition, each year, the members of the Dade County Sheriff’s Office and the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #086, go to the Walmart in Lookout Valley, Tenn., and take children Christmas shopping.
“When you see the looks on their faces, that’s the reward for us,” Cross said.
Cross continued, “When we do events like these, I tend to get the credit because I’m the Sheriff, but everyone makes these events a success. I want them to know how much I appreciate what they do.”