Twenty-five homeless Rutherford County children may enjoy a merrier Christmas after buying toys with Sheriff Robert Arnold and School Resource Officers during the annual Shop with the Sheriff event.
Sheriff Arnold and the SROs will ask diners to contribute to Shop with the Sheriff during a fund-raising event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18 at Toot's on Broad Street and Toot's South on South Church Street.
"We are asking generous Rutherford Countians to help these homeless children receive Christmas gifts," Sheriff Arnold said. "Many of the children show the spirit of Christmas by buying presents for their sisters and brothers as well. It's humbling to watch them share their gifts."
Money collected from Toot's diners will be used to pay for breakfast for the children and to spend about $200 each while shopping Dec. 13.
The homeless children are chosen from elementary and middle schools in Rutherford County by school counselors or teachers representing the Academic Time Leads to Achieving Students (ATLAS) program.
Kim Snell, ATLAS liaison for Rutherford County Schools, said 771 school students are identified as homeless based on children who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. This includes children living in shelters, motels, campgrounds and with families and friends due to a loss of housing or a financial hardship.
"We have ATLAS students identified in every one of our schools," Snell said.
Homeless children face many barriers to enrollment and attendance, she said. ATLAS supports the children with academic success.
Second Harvest Food Bank, Journey of Hope, United Way, MTSU, churches and civic clubs support the children with food every weekend and snacks at schools.
Toot's President/Owner Wade Hays said the restaurant and its staff are proud to host the fund-raising event.
"We feel the need to give back to our community that has been so good to us for almost 30 years," Hays said. "Helping the Sherriff's Office help children is very much in our focus of giving.
Toot's supports not only our local law officers that serve our citizens, but we also love to give back to those who need us the most, the children of Rutherford County."