More than a decade ago, Angela Rowland served as the Pre-Trial Intervention program director for the Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. She thought it would be a good idea to have PTI participants donate toys as part of their community service.
Rowland now serves as the director of the Expungement program for the Solicitor’s Office, but the tradition of collecting toys has continued under the current PTI program director, Dale Allen.
“The PTI participants really enjoy getting the Christmas gifts,” Allen said. “When I’m going over the requirements of the program, people’s eyes light up when I tell them about the Christmas toy program. It really gives them a sense of giving back to the community.”
Allen said that PTI participants receive five hours of credit toward their community service requirement for every $30 they donate in toys.
The Christmas toy program is now one of two ways PTI participants can give back to the community. Earlier this year Eighth Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo implemented a similar program for school supplies. The donated items are distributed throughout the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which consists of Greenwood, Abbeville, Laurens and Newberry counties. In Greenwood the toys go to the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. In Abbeville, the toys are donated to a church that distributes the gifts to the children of people who are incarcerated.
“The opportunity to give to someone in need is doing more for that defendant than sitting in a jail cell,” Stumbo said of the donation programs. “They are learning to do good things rather than just not doing bad things. At Christmas time, I always think about how justice and mercy dovetail with what Jesus did on the cross. While our primary job at the Solicitor’s Office is to execute justice, we get to show mercy to some of the families in our community.”