JEFFERSON CO., Ark. (KTHV) - It is certainly the season of giving, but for some Central Arkansas families, they've already given up a lot this year.
1-in-28 children in the U.S. have a parent that is currently incarcerated. Not only does that strain them emotionally, but it can also be a financial strain for guardians.
One law enforcement agency worked hard Friday to change that.
It's a knock no one wants to hear: Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies on your door step, two days before Christmas.
"Wendy? Are you Wendy? I think you're the person we are looking for,” said one deputy.
Friday was certainly the exception to the rule.
"So Wendy, we are here actually just to say Merry Christmas to you, Mayor Lafayette Woods told Wendy.
"Ok,” she said.
"It's not a joke. it's real. This is serious. You are one of four families in Jefferson County who was picked to provide gifts to,” Woods explained.
"I didn't even know I was entered,” she told him.
"We understand this time of year sometimes money gets tight,” he said.
"It does,” she answered.
Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies gave presents to children with incarcerated parents.
"Thanks guys. I really appreciate this,” Wendy said to the deputies.
"We brought them today, but you don't get to open them up today. You've got to wait to open it up until Christmas. You've got to promise me not to peek in the bag. Promise?” asked Major Woods of a child they delivered presents.
Joyce Boykins was in shock, thought it was some sort of trick, when the deputies showed up with gifts for her three teenage grandchildren.
"When they first come to the door, you don't think anything good because ain't nobody got no money now. It's Christmas. I'm struggling,” she said. Her disbelief quickly turned to joy. "I used to work part time, but now I can't do anything, so you know I was thinking 'oh no, they can't come to my door this time of year. Not now, lord no. I was shocked. I was really shocked."
Even though they may not have their mom or dad home this holiday season, the Sheriff's Office says they hope the gifts provide just a little bit of comfort in knowing that someone is thinking of them.
"They shouldn't suffer and shouldn't be not afforded an opportunity to experience Christmas like any other child that is fortunate just because that parent is absent, or they've got a guardian that may be having trouble,” Major Woods later told us.
Children in 30 counties across Arkansas were able to experience this Friday, thanks to Angel Tree, Teach for America and Palarm Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Mayflower.
They're hoping to carry on the tradition year-after-year.
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