By Carol Vaughn —
Accomack County Sheriff’s Office personnel did some last-minute Christmas shopping at Walmart in Onley Friday, Dec. 18, for the Donnie Wayne Tyndall Memorial Toy Drive.
The items were purchased to fill out the wish lists of youngsters and were in addition to hundreds of toys and other items donated by community members.
Bicycles are among the most often asked for items, Sheriff Todd Wessells said.
“We’ve been doing it for several years,” Wessells said, adding the name was changed to honor Tyndall, a deputy with the sheriff’s office, after he passed away in June 2016.
Tyndall, of Chincoteague, died at age 53 after an illness.
“He was the only active-duty deputy sheriff we’ve ever had pass away. … He loved kids,” Wessells said, adding, “He gave so much to the community. He coached Little League, (youth) football. … My kids loved him. Since he loved kids so much, we decided to change it to the Donnie Wayne Tyndall Memorial Toy Drive.”
Last year, 165 children received Christmas presents through the toy drive, with the numbers looking to approach that again this year.
Additionally, gift cards are given to older adults each year to help them purchase medication, food, or whatever they need.
Sgt. Connie King heads up organizing the toy drive, a massive task.
Area churches and other groups give the sheriff’s office the names of residents who could use some Christmas cheer.
With COVID-19 restrictions and many people out of work, Wessells was concerned that the toy drive might not get donations this year.
“But people in the community have been great. That’s the one thing about Eastern Shore people — they are very giving people,” he said.
Even as the sheriff and several other members of the department were doing their shopping Friday, two women wheeled two bicycles up to them, saying they had been paid for and were donations for the toy drive. They declined to give their names.
Families were able to pick up the donated items at the sheriff’s office this week, in time for Christmas.
“This makes my Christmas, right here,” Wessells said.