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    A Times Editorial

    Santa with a badge


    © St. Petersburg Times
    published December 22, 2002

    There's another world out there, and it's made better by people like Vinny Millan. The Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy spent some time last week handing out Christmas presents to migrant children. These are kids whose parents may earn 80 bucks a week. They live in rundown trailers and wear second-hand clothes. New is not part of their vocabulary.

    Millan is one of two Hillsborough deputies who deliver toys to the children of Mexican, Haitian and Cuban farm workers. He loads the toys, dolls and stuffed animals into his truck, then drives across the fields of Dover and Plant City to give the presents to pre-schoolers.

    The scene, captured this year by the Times' Tamara Lush, is a humble reminder of those who go without -- of children, as Millan put it, whose only toys are pots and pans or "broken beads from a Gasparilla parade."

    The Sheriff's Office and those who donate the toys cannot change the fate of a difficult childhood. But they deliver on the hope that Christmas is special, that one day a year these children will feel the same joy most of us fondly remember.

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