One important aspect of county government agencies is the work that they do to support and aid the communities around them. Saratoga County agency employees often take this work one step further by giving of their own time and resources to support and enhance the work that the County does. This giving runs the gamut of donating to various programs during the holiday season and throughout the year to donating their valuable time and energy by volunteering on one of the many emergency services providers that exist throughout the County.
Every holiday season, Saratoga County's Department of Social Services runs an Adopt-a-Child Christmas Program to help our County's in-need families provide a warm and plentiful holiday for their children. This program served over 400 families in 2007 and the Board of Supervisors is proud to support this program though individual giving. Each year, the Clerk of the Board takes the initiative to sponsor at least three children on behalf of the Board and staff, who then donate gifts for these children. Supervisors and staff members often take this effort further by adopting a child of their own. The 2008 Chairman of the Board, Supervisor George Hargrave from Galway, and his family are proud donors to this program and look forward every year to providing for Saratoga County's families in need. Hargrave said that "This program is just one of the things that my family and I can do to give back to the Saratoga County community." The Board of Supervisors also sponsors a toy drive, Christmas Toys for County Kids. Employees donate new, unwrapped toys which are distributed to children throughout the County by the Department of Social Services. This year, the Christmas Tree in the Board's office had over 100 toys that were used to give County children a warm and festive holiday.
One of the year-long programs that County employees are actively participating in is the Operation Adopt-a-Soldier program. This program originated in 2003 when employees at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton started sending packages to one platoon of eight soldiers from the 368th Combat Engineer Unit from Rutland, Vermont that was serving overseas. Since that time, the program has sent over 1,300 cases of supplies overseas to more than 600 soldiers. County employees donate various items from toiletries to snacks through a donation drop outside the Board of Supervisors' boardroom in Ballston Spa. At least twice a year, these donations are brought to Camp McGregor where they are sent to the troops who are serving our Country. Supervisors, employees and friends of the County also support this program through various raffles and other activities held at Board events throughout the year.
The employees of Saratoga County's Public Health Nursing Service can often be found taking their own initiative to enhance the support the County gives to the community. Along with having their own drop-box for Operation Adopt-a-Soldier at their facility in Saratoga Springs, the staff frequently finds additional ways to support the families they serve. This additional support has come in the form of collections of money, gas cards, greeting cards, books, clothing and activity toys for hospitalized children and their families as well as for other families who need extra help throughout the year. Other staff members have organized collections for hygiene bags for the area's homeless shelter. This support is provided outside of the normal work done through the agency, which includes focusing on immunizing the youngest of the County's population through Well Child clinics and giving flu vaccines to residents - over 2,800 during the fall and winter of 2007.
Many of Saratoga County's departments are focused on protecting the public's safety. For example, the Sheriff's Department works to uphold the law and protect residents' safety. The Highway and Public Works departments work to keep our infrastructure safe. Maplewood Manor, the County's 277-bed nursing home, works to keep the older population safe and healthy in their later years. It would make sense to think that at the end of the day, these employees go home to relax and unwind. However, many of the employees in these departments, and several other departments, can be counted in the ranks of the over 40 volunteer fire departments and rescue squads that serve the County. These important individuals feel that protecting the safety of others is a way of life and live 24-hours-a-day, whether on duty or off, serving in the interest of the public.
One driving force behind the mission and goals of a government agency is providing for and supporting the community it serves. The employees that provide this support, particularly on the front lines of a county government, must have a unique sense of duty to serve the public. It is important to celebrate those individuals who take the initiative to go above and beyond this sense of duty to volunteer their time, money and effort to support the communities in which they live. Saratoga County is proud to have so many employees that are working in their private lives to keep this County a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.