Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputies will play Santa Claus again this year when they deliver toys to underprivileged children.

On Saturday, the department will kick off its 27th annual Sheriff Jason Ard’s Christmas Crusade by collecting donations of money and new toys.

“We have underprivileged kids who wouldn’t have a Christmas without this program,” Sheriff Jason Ard said.

The annual holiday drive is one way for the department to give back to the community they serve.

The program helps 600 to 800 families each year. Last year, more than 1,500 children received toys through the program, and the department has delivered toys to as many 1,800 children some years during its 27-year run.

Ard said the program costs about $50,000 each year.

Deputies and other volunteers will begin collecting monetary donations and new toys from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at Wal-Mart stores in Walker, Denham Springs and Watson, as well at Bass Pro Shops and Sam’s Club in Denham Springs.

Donations will also be accepted at the designated locations from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 14.

While the program accepts new toys, Ard said, monetary donations enable deputies to purchase more toys for less money. The department can purchase many of the toys by using wholesale discounts, he said.

“(Money) is easier on us, and we get more bang for our buck,” Ard said.

Applications will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday until Dec. 12 at the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Center, 29225 Woodside Drive, Walker.

Livingston Parish residents who wish to participate need to provide proof of residency, such as a utility bill or school records; proof of income for all persons living in the household or proof that the family is receiving food stamps (food stamp cards will not be accepted as proof); and a birth certificate for each child. If a birth certificate is not available, school records, WIC vouchers with child’s date of birth or medical records can be accepted as proof of child’s birth date, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. The program is open to children under 13.

Toys will be delivered starting at 8 a.m. Dec. 19, and applicants must be home to receive them, the news release said.

Monetary donations can also be mailed to Sheriff Jason Ard’s Christmas Crusade, P.O. Box 1515, Livingston.

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