The tradition continues – in trooper’s memory

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 17, 2007

COURTLAND—With Santa on hand to give his blessings, Virginia State Police officers joined with the family of a fallen brother on Friday to brighten Christmas for a group of children in Courtland.

Continuing a tradition begun by the late Trooper Robert A. Hill Sr., the Virginia State Police visited the Head Start center in Courtland to deliver bicycles and bags full of toys and clothing to needy students.

Occupying the seat of honor and handing out the toys was Trooper Hill’s widow, Melissa, who said she is thrilled with the work the area state police office does to carry on the philanthropic work started by her husband.

&uot;I love it,&uot; she said, while waiting for the 17 children aided by the toy drive this year to file into the school’s cafeteria. &uot;I always enjoy seeing kids being happy. It brings me a lot of joy.&uot;

Hill said she had been involved in helping with her husband’s Christmas toy drives for Head Start children for several years before he died during a traffic stop the day after Thanksgiving 2006.

Trooper Hill started giving Christmas gifts to Head Start students on his own 15 years ago. He gradually got others from his office involved in the effort, expanding it through the years to include more gifts for more students.

Sergeant Greg Jackson said Friday that Hill would get his fellow troopers involved in the effort with a simple suggestion: &uot;Give me $20. Let’s go do something good.&uot; Before they knew it, troopers would find themselves with him at the Head Start center giving away gifts, Jackson said.

The satisfaction they got from being involved far outweighed the $20 they contributed to the effort, Jackson said.

Though Hill was killed prior to the Head Start visit last year, he had already done most of the groundwork for the toy drive. This is the first year his fellow troopers have conducted the drive without his help.

&uot;It worked out good,&uot; Jackson said. &uot;It was just a learning process for those of us who are left. It’s just special every year to see these kids smile.&uot;

The toy drive got a boost this year with a substantial contribution by the Franklin Wal-Mart, he said.

Also, the Courtland Ruritan Club and the local Fraternal Order of Police made contributions. Private citizens, including some who declined to give police their names, also got into the spirit by making donations.

&uot;This is probably one of the most giving communities,&uot; Jackson said.

&uot;To everybody who has helped us out, we really appreciate it. I’m proud to be a member of this community.&uot;