Hundreds of Runnels County children will have toys and goodies under the tree this Christmas thanks for the Toys for Kids program sponsored by the Runnels County Sheriff's Office.

Hundreds of Runnels County children will have toys and goodies under the tree this Christmas thanks for the Toys for Kids program sponsored by the Runnels County Sheriff’s Office. The annual Christmas gift drive, started by retired Runnels County Sheriff Bill Baird,Hundreds of Runnels County children will have toys and goodies under the tree this Christmas thanks for the Toys for Kids program sponsored by the Runnels County Sheriff’s Office. The gift drive has been on going for about 35 years and is intended to make sure all children have holiday gifts. Last year gifts were distributed to about 400 Runnels County children.

“This lets us carry on a tradition that has been in place for many years,” Runnels County Sheriff Carl Squyres said.

Squyres has been busy getting donations for the past month and now the shelves and tables in the back office of the RCSO are filling up with all kinds of toys, clothes and warm blankets.

The gifts come from generous residents and from financial donations from area businesses. Last week, Walmart in San Angelo made a $1,500 donation and the Shoppin’ Baskit in Ballinger donated $1,000.

Other businesses, like the Lowake Steak House, are offering special incentives for toy donations. Through next week, if you take a toy into the steak house, you receive a free onion ring with your meal.

There are donation boxes at the Walmart in Ballinger as well as Dollar General and Shoppin’ Baskit. Donations may be made at the RCSO from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“The generosity of the people and businesses here just makes your heart swell,” Squyres said.

The toys will be distributed to children from all over Runnels County.

“Families throughout Runnels County are eligible for this,” Squyres said.

Families can still sign up to receive gifts by calling the RCSO at 325-365-2121. The toys and gifts will be distributed from the RCSO on Wednesday, Dec. 20.