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Operation Santa delivers 

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by Luke Vidic

DERBY — There was a spirited hustle and bustle at the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department Friday morning, as officers from multiple agencies gathered for their annual toy drop-off.

While trying to bring all the troops together for a photo, Orleans County Sheriff Jennifer Harlow said, “It’s like herding cats.”

Members of the sheriff’s department, Newport Police Department officers, Newport Fire Department volunteers, Border Patrol agents, Vermont State Police troopers, and staff from Orleans County State’s Attorney’s office were on hand to play the part of Santa’s little helpers.   All took part in delivering toys, clothes, and other gifts to local schools as part of the sheriff’s department’s annual Operation Santa.

Friday’s deliveries brought this year’s total to over 300 gifts, and that number will only rise.

Just as the assortment of officers, lawyers, and firefighters, were preparing to head out on their routes, dispatcher Tammy Lacourse picked up a call from another school with a new request for Operation Santa to happily fulfill.   As of Friday, the figurative elves of the sheriff’s department had delivered to over 20 local schools in the Orleans and Essex area, and deliveries will continue up until Christmas Day.

For Ms. Lacourse, who unofficially captains the program, the day is busy.  It begins with delegating deliveries to the participating officers, firefighters, and lawyers.  They leave the sheriff’s office with massive bags full of gifts over their shoulders. Action figures, Legos, and dolls, mixed with jackets, socks, and other necessities, alleviate the burden the holidays can pose.

The sheriff’s elves were sent on their rounds by Ms. Lacourse, who will continue to manage deliveries until Christmas Day, on top of her normal tasks as dispatcher.

She said the whole operation adds a bit of stress to the day, but it fades in comparison to the satisfaction she and the rest of the team feel.

As to why she organizes the operation, she said, simply,  “I love giving back to our community.”

Her sentiments were echoed by both Sheriff Harlow and Newport Police Chief Travis Bingham, who deflected praise from themselves to the community.

“The community has been extremely generous,” said Sheriff Harlow.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the community that we work in and serve in,” Chief Bingham said.

In photo (Left to right) Orleans County Deputy Sheriff Richard Wells, firefighter Marc Qurion, firefighter Tanner Jacobs, Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett, victim’s advocate Amanda Jensen, Sheriff Jennifer Harlow, Border Patrol Agent AJ Floriani, Deputy Jeremy Cotnoir, Dispatcher Tammy LaCourse, Newport Police Chief Travis Bingham, Newport Patrolman Cody Smith, and Newport Patrolman David Jacobs stand together before heading out for their toy deliveries.  Photo by Luke Vidic

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