From left, Preyear, Powell and Cook work with families during Saturday's shopping event.

Sportsman Club makes holiday merry

Published 1:00am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twinkling eyes, giggles and wishes coming true were the order of the day as 147 area children got a taste of Christmas.
With 17 members, the Brewton Sportsman Club gathered enough funds to make Christmas a special time for children in the community.
Adam Powell, a member of the club, has been a part of the annual event for the group for 25 years.
“We do this for the children,” Powell said. “It’s always been that way and that’s the way we want it to continue. We do this for the needy, not for the greedy.”
Sportsman member Carl Cook said the event has grown over the years with as many as 180 children receiving a gift through the group.
“Our members make donations each year to make this happen,” Cook said. “We’ve always had great cooperation from the merchants all the way around. If we ask, they respond and make all of this possible.”
Powell said everything is done – just short of begging — to make the shopping experience a possibility for so many.
“We solicit funds, we cook we sell raffle tickets — just about anything we can think of to raise money,” Powell said. “We want to be a source that people can go to when they need something for their children.”
Through the years, the method of gifting children at Christmas has changed right along with the changes in the club.
“When we started doing this sort of thing, we did it a whole lot different than the way we do it now,” Powell said. “We started out taking old toys and bicycles and fixing them up. We would do about 40 gifts then. We would spend $500 or $600 just on parts and things to fix up those bicycles and toys. With the way things got to be with everyone being so busy, we thought it would be better just to take that money and purchase new items for the children.”
Powell said that decision has been a blessing for the club members, the children and area merchants.
“We do all of the shopping locally,” Powell said. “It works out great for everyone. We ask the parents to come shopping with the children so that the clothes bought are the right size and the right style to fit the child. They are also allowed to choose toys, if that’s what they want.”
With $50 allowed for each child, Powell said it allow for the purchase of some clothes and even a toy or two.
Emanuel Preyear, also a member working on the project for 25 years, said the project makes it possible for parents to see that their children have a Christmas present under the tree.
“There are so many people who just don’t have the money to spend at Christmas,” Preyear said. “We make sure that everyone we have on our list gets something for Christmas.”
Preyear said a small number of the children served by the Sportsman project come from suggestions in the community.
“We get calls every year for some of the kids in our community that need some help,” Preyear said. “After we make sure all of those children are taken care of, we then take the rest of our funds and use it for children on the list for the annual Christmas Project.”
The Christmas Project, assisted by many volunteers and organizations, had more than 700 names on the list for the 2012 Christmas season, officials said.
Powell said the group doesn’t stop working after the annual shopping event.
“We work all year long to raise money for this event,” Powell said. “We know that there are more and more people who need a little help these days — especially at Christmas. Just to know that what we’ve sweated over in the summer is helping a child enjoy the holidays is thanks enough.”

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