By now you’re aware that I’m writing this weeks before you’re going to read it. To- day is Saturday, December 12. For the past several weeks I’ve been collecting (begging for) money from residents in the Far South region to be donated to the Sumter Sheriff’s “Kids, Cops and Christmas” program. You may have heard of the “Shop with a Cop” program that is popular in other parts of the country; this is the same thing.

Local law enforcement officers take less fortunate children on a Christmas shopping trip. All money raised goes into the Sheriff’s Benevolent Fund and is used for helping the needy in Sumter County. I managed to collect $1,795 from 9 residents, including a $200 donation from The VHA. One amazing couple donated $750!!

Residents who are members of the Villages District 12 Facebook page (where I did most of my begging), will recall that the residents of St. James Village raised

$16,400 for the program. We raised  $1,795. There are 4,500 occupied homes south of SR44. We are the largest geographical area in The Villages. If every household gave $5 we could have raised $22,500.

Now, I can’t put myself in everyone’s wallet. I don’t know what your financial situation is, but “Come on man!” 5 bucks!!! That’s one Starbucks soy-caramel- mocha-frappe-latte-chino. If some of you who didn’t donate are reading this and feel like I’m trying to shame you, it’s because I am. We all have a good life here in The Villages. There are people who live around us, who are not as fortunate. Y’all need to step up your game, these are our neighbors.

Donations can be made year-round. Checks should be made payable to the Sumter Sheriff Benevolent Fund. You can mail them to the Sheriff’s Office at 7361 Powell Rd. Wildwood, FL 34785 (Attention Ms. Beth Hunt) or I can pick them up from you. Please put “Kids, Cops and Christmas” on the check’s note. I hope that everyone has (had) a great Holiday season!

Andrew Bilardello
Vice President