Cherokee charities meet holiday goals
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@mdjonline.com
December 22, 2010 12:00 AM | 1346 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MUST Cherokee expects to help 1,800 children with its annual Toy Shop where parents in need can pick out free toys for their children. As many as 300 families will be helped by the shop where children can pick out free gifts for their parents. Volunteer Eva Villafane of Canton wraps one of the many presents children can choose from for their parents.<br>Staff/Todd Hull
MUST Cherokee expects to help 1,800 children with its annual Toy Shop where parents in need can pick out free toys for their children. As many as 300 families will be helped by the shop where children can pick out free gifts for their parents. Volunteer Eva Villafane of Canton wraps one of the many presents children can choose from for their parents.
Staff/Todd Hull
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The holiday season has been kind to many of Cherokee County's Christmas charities.

Nonprofit organizations and social service agencies say they received enough help to meet the needs of a growing disadvantaged population.

MUST Cherokee's annual Christmas Toy Shop received enough donations to help at least 1,800 children, said Catherine Petty, special projects coordinator for the nonprofit ministry.

"We've done pretty well," Petty said of donations for the shop, where parents can pick out toys for their children at no charge.

Today is the last day when children will shop for gifts for their parents in MUST's Secret Santa shop. Ms. Petty said between 250 and 300 families signed up for the program.

Petty said she's been impressed with the outpouring of community support.

"We really have seen a lot of support from the local community," she said, adding MUST couldn't do its job without such support.

The Cherokee County Senior Services' Adopt-A-Senior Program collected enough cardigan sweaters and lap throws to help about 210 seniors who participate in its Meals-On-Wheels, Congregate Meal or Homemaker Program.

Senior Services Director Nathan Brandon said the community was "responsive" to the department's needs, adding they will be able to provide sweaters and lap throws to all clients who request them.

The Salvation Army in Cherokee County said all 193 children who signed up will benefit from its Angel Trees program.

The organization puts up Christmas trees in various locations throughout Cherokee during the holiday season. Every tree contains as many as 25 paper ornaments, and each ornament includes a child's name and what they want for Christmas. People are invited to take a paper ornament and purchase the requested gifts.

Cathy Monroe, service director for the Salvation Army in Cherokee, said the organization last year helped 225 children, but had to purchase gifts out of their pockets for eight of them, as they didn't receive enough gifts from the community.

The organization is also on pace to meet its $100,000 goal for its annual Red Kettle Drive program. The program, which began in 1891, is the organization's main source of revenue. Money raised by bell ringers manning kettles outside stores throughout the county helps local residents in need.

The response to the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program in Cherokee has been "good" overall, said Joe Kraft, senior vice commander of the Marine Corps League Woodstock Detachment 1131.

The detachment, which volunteers as part of the larger metro Atlanta Toys for Tots program, has about 40 sites in Cherokee where people in the community can drop off new, unwrapped toys.

Kraft said Monday was the last day for customers to drop off toys at most businesses, but noted Publix supermarkets still are collecting toys.

The metro Atlanta goal is to collect 500,000 toys, and Kraft said about 477,000 have been collected so far.

"We're very grateful for participating businesses," he added.

The Cherokee Sheriff's Office's Reserve Unit's Christmas program also has been a success.

Sgt. John Forkin, the program's coordinator, said 167 children benefited from the reserve unit's Shop With A Cop initiative, and 56 children were helped with donations of food and toys through its Christmas Joy initiative.

Deputies and volunteers from the Sequoyah High School Air Force JROTC made 101 deliveries to the elderly.

The program helps needy children, senior citizens and families during the holidays. Funds donated are used to purchase basic necessities and gifts for those in need. The money is used specifically for children to purchase gifts and to deliver food baskets to seniors.

Forkin said the program received a little more $10,000, which supplied $55 to each child to spend on toys during Shop With A Cop.

Canton Police Department's Shop With A Cop program helped 45 children this year, said Cpl. Stacy Bailey.

Twice as many children were helped this year as were aided last year, she said. The department received $3,500 in donations, which allowed each child to spend as much as $75 on themselves.

The department also set up a collection box for new, unwrapped toys that its Explorers Program will deliver to families who signed up for help. Cpl. Bailey said an additional 20 children will benefit from the toy drive.

Every foster child was sponsored in the Cherokee County Department of Family and Children Services' Secret Santa Program. The program collects financial donations to provide Christmas presents to foster children.

Ann Feczko, the coordinator of the program, said the community came through to help 150 children in foster care.

"The sponsors were incredible," she said, adding one sponsor purchased at least one gift on every child's wish list. "It was another great year. The sponsors were very generous."
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