The 20th District Drug Court is looking to bring a little holiday cheer to its participants this year as they heal from addiction and substance abuse.


Case manager and compliance officer David Tolbert said the local drug court has recently acquired a completely new staff of directors. As part of an initiative to improve and unify the program, Tolbert said the new staff members have decided to bring back an old holiday tradition — the Family Christmas Party.


“There’s been a lot of misconceptions and stuff that wasn’t necessarily done in the right way before and we’re taking drug court in the direction that it’s supposed to be in,” Tolbert said.


This will be the first time in several years the drug court has held a Christmas Party for drug court participants and their families, Tolbert said. Set for Dec. 12, the drug court is looking for donations of gift cards, coloring books, candy canes and other items that could be used as raffle prizes or door prizes during the Christmas Party.


“Those were kind of just a general idea. It’s easy to give out gift cards to children or adults,” Tolbert said. “The coloring books will be for any of the children that come, along with the candy canes and stuff like that. But any kind of donation that would help out is welcome.”


The drug court program is structured through regular drug tests once or twice a week, meetings, counseling and community service — all designed to help participants recover from substance abuse as an alternative to incarceration.


However, Tolbert said the new staff wants to shift away from the idea that drug court is solely a punishment. A former drug court participant himself, Tolbert said several of the staff members have gone through recovery and faced similar challenges to those the participants face.


This wasn’t necessarily the case in the past, Tolbert said. “We sit down with the participants and explain in detail everything about the program. We’re available to them 24 hours a day,” Tolbert said. “We’re showing them that the district drug court does care about these people and that we’re not just looking at punishment.”


The idea is to create a sense of community among participants, Tolbert said — and remind individuals that the drug court is here as a service not only for participants, but the community as a whole.


“There’s some people that don’t have a lot of family support that are in drug court,” Tolbert said. “There are a lot of families that are broken up, so a lot of times our program, whether it’s the treatment providers or us, are that kind of surrogate family in a way. It shows that we support them and that they’re loved.”


The Christmas Party is ideally one small step towards unifying the drug court program and trying to live up to what it is supposed to be, Tolbert said. “It’s supposed to be about helping families re-unite, get better together, heal from addiction and we’re all in this together.”


To donate, individuals can contact the 20th District Drug Court office at 580-226-5520 or David Tolbert at 580-630-3205, or by email at jamestolbert01@gmail.com.