TOP PHOTO: The police officer her D.A.R.E. students call Miss Detective Lady also heads up the D.A.R.E. Toy Drive each year. LPD’s Danielle Gilbert shares the story of the toy drive with us today.

The City of La Follette Auditorium is full of Christmas gifts thanks to a generous community. However, they won’t be there for long as La Follette Police Officers will be making special deliveries starting tomorrow.

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – “A couple of years after I started teaching D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) at La Follette Elementary School, I realized lots of my kids were being left out at Christmas,” said Danielle Gilbert with the La Follette Police Department. Gilbert wears multiple hats from her D.A.R.E. duties to being a full-time detective-sergeant and during the holidays, a toy drive coordinator. Gilbert’s observation triggered the beginning of the now annual D.A.R.E. toy drive. That first year, Gilbert was buying the toys herself and storing them in the back of her patrol car; handing them out as she drove around during work.

“I really appreciate everyone who makes this possible, my fellow officers, the anonymous donors, the Family Dollar Store, the Church of God and so many others,” said Gilbert, who is called Miss Detective Lady by her students. Some youngsters came to City Hall Tuesday and picked up their gifts as the delivery part of the toy drive gets rolling. “Delivery begins tomorrow (Thursday) as officers will make deliveries as they work the roads. There’ll still be some single toys that officers will handout on Christmas Eve,” added Gilbert.

Anticipation abounds as youngsters await the delivery of their gifts from a person wearing the blue and a badge.

“We’re able to provide gifts from children ranging in age from two weeks to 17 years,” said Gilbert. This Christmas season marks the third year of the D.A.R.E. Toy Drive.

Though the drive is in the early stages delivering, there is still time to donate a new unwrapped toy and/or a monetary donation. Simply call Miss Detective Lady at 423.562.8331. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/21/2022-6AM-PHOTOS COURTESY OF WLAF’S AARON HOPKINS)