The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department employees always get excited this time of year because it’s time for the Fill the Bus” Kick Off.

That’s a way for those in the department to help needy kids and also a way for the department to challenge the residents of Guilford County to help create smiles this holiday, by, well, filling the bus in front of the Sheriff’s office with toys that will go to kids in need this the holiday season.

This year, the effort will begin on Monday, Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and run those same hours through Wednesday, Dec. 14.

The event should be easy to find: Look for a big bus parked in the Otto Zenke Building Parking Lot in downtown Greensboro. The Otto Zenke building, the headquarters of the Sherriff’s Department, is at 400 W. Washington St.

This is an annual tradition at this time of year and it is one that was continued during the pandemic because there was a strong feeling among the department – and community organizations conducting similar operations – that all kids need to have at least some presents under the tree no matter what financial conditions their families are facing.

A big part of this drive is the “challenge” aspect. The department has challenged Guilford County citizens to help “Fill The Bus.” In past years, many county residents have answered that call and packed the buses with gifts – as have many of the 600-plus men and women in the Sheriff’s Department.

Other departments in Guilford County government hold similar drives.  For instance, the county’s social services workers seek to ensure that foster children and others in hardship situations have some nice presents to open.