Manatee County Sheriff's Office accepts 300 gift bags from a group of thankful Lakewood Ranch women.
Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells stood outside the Operations Center in Bradenton on Aug. 24 watching deputies help four Lakewood Ranch women unload 300 gift bags from their cars.
The gift bags, which were filled with snacks and handwritten notes, were to show support for local law enforcement.
“It means a lot to us,” Wells said. “We know we live in a great community. We appreciate the people so much for all their kind gestures and emails and everything to show support, but this is going above and beyond.”
River Club’s Carole Sullivan started working with 13 other Lakewood Ranch women a month ago to create the gift bags after hearing what other groups in the community were doing to support health care workers.
Sullivan was inspired to show support as she watched deputies continue to serve the county during the pandemic and during a time when law enforcement officers across the nation were being questioned about their tactics and being accused of brutality, she said.
“These people are out there helping to save our property and ourselves, and we want them to feel appreciated,” Sullivan said. “The police department needs a little love these days.”
Although the pandemic has changed many people’s way of life, the deputies’ jobs have remained the same.
“The pandemic has made it more difficult, obviously, but we still have to respond to the same call that they did prior to the pandemic and perform the same duties,” Wells said.
The group also had help from 16 children in Lakewood Ranch who drew pictures and wrote thank-you notes for the gift bags. The group was able to make an additional 50 bags to give to fire stations in Lakewood Ranch.
“It fills me up to see how much everybody just joyously gave up themselves,” Sullivan said. “It wasn’t one more thing on their to-do list. People were so generous.”