Making Christmas merry and bright
by Emily Adams
 Impact student Hunter Youngblood, left, shops for pajamas with Rotary members Steve Marlowe and Billy Bobbitt.
SYLACAUGA – The holidays got a lot brighter for 18 Sylacauga families this week thanks to donations from the Rotary Club.

Rotary’s 33 members took to Walmart to purchase Christmas gifts for the families and personally delivered the goodies, which included everything from toys to clothes to groceries, Tuesday afternoon.

“It was fabulous all around,” Rotary President Vanessa Green said. “The Rotary Club’s spirit was high, and we were excited to give back. Our motto is ‘Service Above Self,’ and this is one example of how we live that out in the community.”

The recipients and their wish lists were provided through SAFE Family Services and member suggestions. Rotary members take the time to make a face-to-face delivery, and Green said the reaction from the families always reassures them their efforts are appreciated.

“I’ve seen people just be humbled by it. We’ve had people say, ‘We wouldn’t have had Christmas if it were not for you guys,’” she said. “People have tears in their eyes, and some are just overwhelmed altogether. Every single time you deliver to a home, you know when you leave that you made a difference.”

Members Carol Bates and Keith Mock organized the project, where members shopped along with a handful of students from Sylacauga High School’s Impact Club. Bates said the wish lists usually include items for children, and Rotary also delivers clothes and about a four-day supply of groceries. Shopping was arranged by Mock, who is also manager of the local Walmart.

“We had all the groceries ready to go when they got here, and we had a dedicated register set up to check out all the toys and other items,” Mock said. “Just to know that we are able to help children who would not have otherwise had a Christmas is a wonderful feeling, and we’re happy to do it.”

Rotary raises the funds for the project through a barbecue plate sale held in the fall - its only fundraiser of the year. This year’s sale was so successful that the group was able to provide for about six more families than last year and also made a $1,000 donation to the Boy’s Club. The fundraiser also allows for the organization’s annual scholarships for high school students and its efforts to support B.B. Comer Library.

Bates said the Christmas deliveries have become a tradition in the community, and it is one that is much needed.

“This is something Rotary has done for years and years, and it’s a wonderful outreach,” she said. “And I noticed that this year, it seemed like it was needed more than ever before.”

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© 2012