FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — The crossing guard division under Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office launched ‘Operation Bundle Up’ this school year to help students in need stay warm and dry.

Deputy Tom Henry, School Resource Office for Destin High School, is spearheading the clothing drive. Henry said the project started because a Wright Elementary School crossing guard in Fort Walton Beach saw a need and stepped in.

“When I was talking with him and watching him one day at his duty station he let it be known to me that he was coming out of his own pocket and buying coats and jackets, gloves and hats. Cold weather and wet weather stuff and handed them to his kids that are at the duty station that he saw needed them,” said Henry. “You know some families couldn’t afford to buy them, so he was doing that on his own.”

Cold weather jackets, hats, gloves, and rain gear are the clothing drive’s more significant pushes. Henry said the need stretches the entire county.

“We’ve probably got students everywhere that need could come into this need, if we need to disperse it elsewhere, then that’s what we’ll do too. We’ve got most of our crossing guards in that area. We got Racetrack, Shalimar, Mary Ester cut off, and one in Blue Water Bay.”

Having crossing guards spot the kids on a daily basis will make the donated items reach those that truly need them when they need them, compared to a larger clothing drive where parents and guardians have to come and pick up items.

“We’ll find out the kid’s name,” said Henry. “If they’re not talking to the crossing guard on the way to school then we’ll follow up at the school and find the kid that is in need.”

Each day of cold weather and wet weather our Crossing Guards encounter students which cannot afford the basic essential items to keep them safe from the elements of Mother Nature.

Okaloosa County Sheriff’s office

Drop-off locations for the drive include:

  • Destin – Stahlman Avenue OCSO location
  • Fort Walton Beach Area – OCSO Headquarters Building located at 50 2nd Street, Shalimar, Florida
  • Crestview – Livingston OCSO location at Hwy 90 and Hwy 85 intersection

“We’ve gotten some items already donated as you know, just trying to get the ball rolling,” said Henry. “You never know when the weather’s going to change around here like it is so we’re trying to get some more stuff donated and that’s why we put the put it out to the public.”

Anyone wanting to help Operation Bundle Up can contact Deputy Henry at thenry@sheriff-okaloosa.org