The Christmas season is a time for giving and helping those in need.
People up and down the Ohio Valley are well known for their charitable spirit, especially this time of year. No where is that more evident than with those who dedicate their lives to protecting the rest of us.
Many area law enforcement organizations volunteer their time toward charitable groups and causes, and that is evident more than ever as Christmas approaches.
Local representatives of the Ohio State Highway Patrol also have gotten into the act of giving for many years, with Trooper Ed Weigand and dispatcher Diane Holubeck spending the last 10 Christmas seasons collecting toys to go to patients at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
They often have to use a small truck to transport the toys because of the response from the community.
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1 in Steubenville also were involved in the act of giving this year. The organization, which represents officers in the Steubenville Police Department, also collected donations to purchase toys for children at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital. FOP President Jim Marquis and Vice President Jason Hanlin said they heard about the work done by the OSHP and wanted to help.
And, Upper Ohio Valley Lodge 97 of the FOP, which includes officers from Jefferson, Harrison and Carroll counties, helped 112 children from 55 families with its annual Shop With a Cop event.
In Hancock County, meanwhile, members of the Hancock County Sheriff's Department and the Hancock County Deputy Association spend months raising money and other donations for its Shop with a Cop program.
Each year, donations to the program help to purchase toys and other items for children who otherwise would go without during the holidays. This year, the effort was led by retired Deputy Tom Tompos and Deputy Pat Hoder.
In its 24th year, Shop with a Cop has helped to brighten Christmas for more than 4,000 Hancock County children.
The men and women of our local law enforcement agencies deserve to be thanked every day, and especially at this time of year when they go the extra mile to help so many others. We applaud their efforts and encourage more people to find a way to help with these programs and collections when the time comes next year.