Early Friday morning more than 100 volunteers, many wearing their Sheriff’s Office uniforms, spread out across Livingston Parish to distribute toys and gifts to 1,233 children.

The toy delivery was the final phase of Sheriff Jason Ard’s Christmas Crusade.

The program, which started in 1987, collects money and toys throughout the year to give to those in need at Christmas, Ard said.

“Oftentimes, these families interact with us when something bad happens,” the sheriff said. “That’s their perception of us. With this project, we get to change that perception. My deputies volunteer their time — away from their families — to give back to those in their community. To me, that’s the most amazing Christmas.”

Businesses, residents and children, many who give coins from their piggy banks, provide the money used to buy the gifts needed to fill toy lists, Ard said.

This year, 572 families were helped.

A big push is made the Saturday after Thanksgiving when deputies and volunteers collect cash and gifts at Wal-Mart and Bass Pro Shops locations.

After toys are bought and sorted, deputies are joined by family and friends on the delivery mission.

Donations for the program can be mailed to: Sheriff Jason Ard’s Christmas Crusade, P.O. Box 1515, Livingston, LA 70754.