2005-12-21 / Columns

Christmas dreams do come true

Cody SOSSAMON LEDGER PUBLISHER

Getting up at 5:30 in the morning on a Saturday is not something I would normally look forward to, but this past Saturday was not a normal one for me — or for 83 Cherokee County children and their parents.

Saturday was Shopping Day for The Ledger’s annual Christmas is for Kids, a fundraiser to provide presents for children who would not otherwise have much, if anything, under the tree come Christmas morning.

Thanks to the generosity of many individuals, businesses and organizations, nearly $10,000 was raised this year. Some additional funds have come in since Saturday, so we were able to help 18 more children, bringing the total to 101 kids.

Even though the amount raised this year was far short of last year’s record of more than $16,000, considering all of the relief efforts for the natural disasters that occurred throughout the world in 2005, I think the giving this year is a testament to the generosity of the people of Cherokee County.

I only wish all of you who made this possible could have shared in the hugs and thankyous I received from the grateful parents and happy children. They were truly a great bunch.

In the past I have published pictures of many of the children to give you a feel for the happiness you helped bring to them. Many of the kids seemed almost as excited about getting their pictures in the paper as they were about the gifts they had just bought. However, I learned Monday night that some of these children had been subjected to insensitive comments from their schoolmates, so there will be no picture page this year of the “Kids of ‘Christmas is for Kids’.”

But I do have a couple of ‘thank-you’ notes from their parents to share with you.

“To all of you and to all the families that made two young girls’ Christmas a very special one, God bless, love and peace to you.”

And another: “Thank you so much for helping my son for Christmas. You are an angel! I wish I could thank everyone that was involved with the Christmas is for Kids. It is a true blessing for my son and I hope it is for all the other children that got the help. Thank you a million times over. Merry Christmas!”

This year was especially gratifying for me as my daughter Abbie and stepson Paul volunteered to help the shoppers, as did two of Abbie’s friends, Jessica and Kaitlin, and Paul’s friend Kayla.

Also, several members of the Sub Deb Club, a service organization made up of high school students, and their grade mothers helped the families with their selections.

Seeing these teenagers interact with the kids and their families was gift in itself. Say what you want about today’s teens, but back in my day, volunteering for charitable work, especially early on a Saturday morning, was unheard of.

Any mention of the special helpers would be incomplete without singling out Margaret Woodcock. She probably will be mad at me for saying so, but she has helped things run smoothly at the checkouts for many, many years.

Also, the staff and management at Wal-Mart, as always, were invaluable with their assistance in ensuring that everything went off without a hitch. (The company’s contribution of $1,600 was no small matter either!) For icing on the cake, the photo shop there took pictures of each child with Santa and gave them a copy.

A big THANK YOU goes out to Beth Hyatt and her fellow employees at the Department of Social Services and Pearson Cooper and his folks at Disabilities and Special Needs. Not only did they work long and hard to come up with a list of children and notify them, but many of these dedicated pubic servants showed up Saturday morning to help with the shopping.

Last, but certainly not least, I need to recognize my office manager Gina Poole for keeping up with the “Christmas is for Kids” account finances and paper work (a year-long task) and our receptionist Carri Moss, who handles a ton of phone calls and letters from parents seeking help for their children. (We have a big stack of requests that we were unable to fulfill, but some money is still coming in and as long as it does we’ll keep making Christmas dreams come true!)

The biggest thank-you of all, though, goes to all of you who have given so generously to this wonderful charity since it began almost 20 years ago. During that time, approximately $200,000 has been raised and about 2,000 children have received shopping sprees!

Yes, there is a Santa Claus, and his spirit is alive and well in Cherokee County. I have seen it at work on the Saturday before Christmas for the past two decades.

I hope you and yours have a very merry Christmas. I’ve had mine, even if I did have to get up early on a Saturday morning!

(Cody Sossamon is publisher of The Gaffney Ledger. You can

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