Christmas comes early thanks to Kiwanis

Published 2:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Through the Kiwanis Club’s Operation Santa Clause project, 135 area children were given the hope of a bright Christmas Saturday in Brewton.
Ray Madden, club president for the Brewton Kiwanis group, said the sounds of shopping across the Brewton Walmart were good to hear Saturday morning.
“We got to Walmart around 5:30 a.m. and started shopping with the children by about 6 a.m.,” Madden said. “It was great to see those children shopping and enjoying themselves because of what we were able to do.”
Madden said the club had gathered enough funds to serve 125 children, but ended up with more than planned being involved in the event.
“We are so thankful to area businesses and individuals who made it possible for us to be able to do this again this year,” Madden said. “We had a couple of people who weren’t able to show up that morning, but we still ended up serving 135 children in the program. The children who came to shop were referred to us through the Department of Human Resources and they were very appreciative of what we were able to do for them.”
Madden said the shopping for 135 children couldn’t possibly have been done by club members alone.
“We were so fortunate to have honor students and volunteers from area schools to come in and help the children on our list do their shopping,” Madden said. “We are thankful to the students from W.S. Neal High School, T.R. Miller High School, Cornerstone Christian School and Flomaton High School for showing up so early on a weekend morning to help these children shop.”
In addition to the high school helpers, Kiwanis Club members did their part to help the children find the items on their wish list Saturday morning.
“We had several of our members on hand helping out as well,” Madden said. “I was there to do a little shopping and our vice president Steve Dickey was there, too. Others helping out were Alan Cave, Charles and Cindy Jackson, Dave and Becky Jordan, Tom Roberts and Jeff Kirkland.”
The Brewton Kiwanis have been doing this kind of Christmas shopping for area children fro 25 years, Madden said.
“I helped shop one time with the group even when I wasn’t a member,” Madden said. “I joined the group the next year and then became the club president. The first time I went to shop, I saw the appreciation on the kids’ faces and that got me to a point that I wanted to be involved in this. I also saw first hand some of the parents of those children who were in on the shopping and saw how much they appreciated the help. People who really need a little help appreciate what we’re able to do.”
Madden expressed thanks to the staff and management at Walmart for their assistance during Saturday’s shopping event.
“They were so gracious to come out so early and open up to get things going for us,” Madden said. “We appreciate their part in helping us to make this shopping experience even better for our club and the children.”