Christmas Project wraps up holiday giving

Published 11:59 pm Sunday, December 19, 2010

With countless volunteer hours logged, the 2010 Christmas Project is now in Santa’s hands. Bags filled with a variety of gifts for area children were distributed Thursday from the halls of the First United Methodist Church.

Judy Crane, executive director for the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce, said more than 600 children and 100 elderly residents were given gifts of clothing, toys and books this holiday season thanks to the generous donations of businesses and individuals.

“We are so blessed to be able to continue this project year after year,” Crane said. “We have such wonderful people who volunteer to do so much with this project that makes it possible. The donations of items, as well as cash, by area residents has been wonderful. We have a lot of businesses who also make contributions to help the project be a success each year.”

Crane said the funds that make the purchase of items possible for so many area residents comes from friends and neighbors throughout the community.

“The only way this project continues to be successful and serve so many people is because of the people in this community,” Crane said. “We don’t get any funding from any source other than private and business contributions. We don’t get any federal, state or city funds and the businesses and individuals who make a contribution to the Project is the only way we can do this.”

Although the number of volunteers assisting with the 2010 event is hard to pinpoint, Crane said one woman in particular makes the project run like a well-oiled machine.

“Stephanie Walker serves as our chairperson for this project,” Crane said. “She does so much to get things coordinated from the time the requests come in to notification of those chosen as recipients all the way down to handing out the packages. She makes everything look so easy and we know what hard work it is to get everything organized.”

Crane said Walker works with other volunteers to do shopping, sorting, wrapping and coordinating pick-up for those who are on the receiving end of the project.

“We just simply couldn’t do this without Stephanie’s help,” Crane said.

Thursday’s distrubtion of the bags took a team of Santa’s helpers to make sure packages were given to the intended recipients.

Karen Reynolds said she had no idea how much work the day would be. “This is my first time volunteering for this,” she said. “I offered to help and here I am. I didn’t know how much work would be involved with this, but I’m glad I came.”

Recipients arriving at the distribution time at FUMC were treated to refreshments while packages were retrieved. Volunteering for distribution activities were Robin Smith, Kellie Castleberry, Reynolds, Betty Clark and Sandy Nall.