As I sit here on Saturday morning, I’ve made a cup of coffee, checked the weather and confirmed we are still expecting winter weather later today and I find myself reflecting back over the year. The first things that come to mind are the elections, the snarky and sometimes hostile social media posts, the riots, protests and cops being murdered for no other reason than the fact they chose to dedicate their lives to serving their communities. It’s easy, even as I write this, to start to feel disgusted and drained. It seems those types of stories dominated the year. We were inundated with them to the point of exhaustion.

But there are other stories. These stories may not make national headlines but they are no less important, and are much more reflective of who we are, at least in Cherokee County. As a result of you blessing me with the honor of serving as your Sheriff, I get to know these stories because I often have a front row seat to see some of the absolutely amazing things that happen in this county. This time of year especially, many people and organizations come together to give a helping hand to some of our friends and neighbors who may be having a tough time.

For example, our office has had the opportunity over the past couple of years to play a small role in the Cherokee County/KOAM Toybox Project and it’s been amazing to see the behind the scenes work done by the team at KOAM-TV each year. Even more exciting though, is to see the overwhelming generosity from all of you who pick up an extra toy or two while out shopping, those who put their spare change in the donation bucket at Casey’s in Galena (they raised over $200 in just over a day!), or those of you who make other financial contributions that help fund the program. I am also in awe of the countless hours of work done each year by Joanna Derfelt and Dianna Sly (who are going to kill me for putting their names in this). They truly have a passion for Cherokee County families and are selflessly motivated by their belief that every child should experience the magic of Christmas. Because of the collective work and generosity of all those people and organizations, while picking up toys this week, several parents were overheard saying how excited they were to “see the look on the kids’ faces when they open their presents on Christmas morning!” In fact, you made it possible for over 400 Cherokee County children to have a little bit brighter Christmas this year!

Also this week, I got to experience another first. An anonymous donor wanted to provide Christmas trees, along with lights and decorations, to a couple of families who didn’t already have one. Because they wanted to remain anonymous, they asked me to deliver the trees. In doing so, I got to meet a nice single mom of two awesome kids, ages 5 and 10. She’s working, but like many people, finds herself having a hard time making ends meet. The kids were so excited to decorate the tree with their mom that night! I know my involvement was that of the middle/delivery man, but this experience left me with a great memory, just as it did for those families.

These are just a couple of recent examples of some great things going on within our community. There are tons more, as well. Throughout the year we have received amazing cards from area school children and visits from residents who wanted to express their appreciation in person for investigations conducted by our office that led to the removal of drug dealers from their neighborhoods.

These are the stories I'll choose to remember when thinking about 2016

I’m constantly amazed, but never surprised by the supportive, giving and generous spirit of the people of Cherokee County. That’s what makes this county and this time of year great!

I hope this Christmas you will all be able to spend some time relaxing with family and will make time to recognize and give thanks to God for sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to be born so that we all may also live.

Merry Christmas and God Bless,

Sheriff David Groves