Over the past month, off-duty deputies from the Callaway County Sheriff's Office has been stopping by children's birthday parties to cheer up families unable to host traditional parties due to COVID-19.
"Being able to give a child some joy, and a bit of a surprise, on their birthday is wonderful," Callaway County Sheriff Clay Chism said in an email.
The department first learned of the "drive-by" birthday party trend on social media.
"I was actually preparing to publicize our willingness to help with such events here in Callaway County when we received a direct request from a Mokane-area resident," Chism said.
After that first "drive-by" party, the department started receiving more requests. Chism called the experience a "blast."
Various deputies have been volunteering to participate while off-duty.
"Off-duty deputies are used so routine calls for service across the county handled by on-duty deputies are not sacrificed," Chism said. "Also, by utilizing off-duty deputies, they can guarantee their appearance as opposed to an on-duty deputy who may have to bail at the last second to handle an emergency call somewhere in the county."
Chism said families have reacted positively to the effort.
"I've made it no secret that I believe community involvement is a very important part of our job," Chism said. "That starts with me and funnels down to my staff. We are part of the community, we live here, our kids go to school here, and we want to support our community."
To schedule a birthday visit, contact the Callaway County Sheriff's Office a few days before the party.