Being in the jewelry industry, Mike Weaver knows scraping together extra money for the perfect holiday gift can be a little stressful.
“We know … that it can be tough to find that extra money sometimes to help with the holidays,” he said. “We thought ‘well, if we could give a little bit of money and take that burden off and help somebody get something,’ we just thought it would be a great time of the year to do that.”
That little bit of money — which turned into more than $40,000 in the form of $100 gift cards to more than 400 employees of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office — was presented last week to Sheriff Ron Freeman at a South Forsyth Rotary Club meeting.
The gifts come as part of the rotary’s “making a difference” theme this year, said club President John Bramblett.
“Every member in our rotary club makes a difference in our community for the things that we do, and we do a lot of things as a group and as individuals and as businesses to make a difference,” Bramblett said. “Mike Weaver came to me several months back with an idea that he and his business had to make a difference.”
Mike and wife, Missy, own Omega Diamond Jewelers in Cumming.
That idea, Weaver said, came in the form of giving back to the sheriff’s office.
“[Missy and I] got to talking and we said, ‘what can we do for our community?’” Weaver said. “So we started thinking and said, ‘why don’t we give back to who takes care of our community and who takes care of us?’ We felt like the sheriff’s department can sometimes be underappreciated … and what we decided to do was give the entire staff a $100 gift card.”
The sheriff’s office’s gifts also stem from a larger sense Weaver and his wife have that law enforcement across the United States is, in general, more valuable than many give it credit for, Weaver said.
“[Not just] our sheriff’s department, but law enforcement in general, especially nationwide, seems to be underappreciated,” he said. “Not so much in this community — everybody seems to love our officers — and it [shows]. But we said, ‘why don’t we dig a little deeper in that and look past just our deputies and see what makes our sheriff’s department operate and run. There are so many people that we don’t see.”
Those include inmate service personnel, civilian staff members, 911 callers and others that the public don’t see on a day-to-day basis.
“Everybody knows what the deputies do — they know the guys in the green and tan that are doing this,” Freeman said. “But we ask people to do so much [other] stuff. We have our inmate service specialists. When somebody’s brought into jail, we need somebody that does all the paperwork and somebody that keeps up with all the money and all the clothing and all the valuables they bring in. We need somebody to make sure we’re releasing the right people — that’s really important.”
Freeman added there are numerous other employees who keep the agency up and running.
“These people are vital and we can’t do our jobs without the civilian employees,” he said. “Just because they don’t wear a badge and a gun doesn’t mean they’re not just as vital to us in what we do. These are folks who aren’t out on the street answering your 911 calls, but the agency doesn’t work without them.”
Weaver said prior to giving the gift, even he didn’t realize how many people work for the sheriff’s office.
“We didn’t think about [the fact] that there are about 400 employees for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, which adds up to about $40,000, but you know what? Those guys are worth it,” he said. “Without [all of] them, we’d be in a lot of trouble.”