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In the photo at left, by Beacon photographer Marsha McLaughlin, during the 2003 Christmas season, then-Sheriff Ben Johnson helps 4-year-old Seth Long place an ornament on the Sheriff’s Office Christmas tree.

It’s a long-standing tradition of the Sheriff’s Office to invite children to help decorate for the holidays. That year, the deputies invited children from Merry Day Preschool to help.

In the photo at right, fifteen years later, Seth Long is a deputy with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, and he’s helping first-grader Darrionte Hill place an ornament on the Sheriff’s Office tree Dec. 3.

When Long shared this photograph with his mother, Lisa Long, she remembered a newspaper clipping from 2003 featuring her son and the sheriff, and she shared the pay-it-forward Christmas story with The Beacon. We were able to find Marsha McLaughlin’s original photo in our archive.

Darrionte is in Christa Bryant’s class at Starke Elementary School in DeLand.

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