One hundred twenty local children will have a Christmas this year because of the Tiftarea YMCA’s Christmas Extravaganza, which is done annually to help local children who would normally not have a Christmas. This is the Y’s fourth year hosting the free event.
All of the children, ages 0-17, received their own individual laundry basket Saturday filled with several goodies, including necessities (shoes, socks, underwear, etc.), a Bible and toys. They also had the opportunity to see Santa Claus (Leon Benefield).
This year’s extravaganza was held Saturday morning at the Tift Regional Medical Center Event Center, located next to the Y.
Jason Bishoff, sports and programs director, said it’s a rigorous process when selecting all of the individuals who will receive the gifts. He said they make sure to check with other local organizations as well. Benefield noted that the extravaganza is Christmas for these children.
Bishoff said they had a lot of help from the community, including the Key Club, the Georgia Firebirds and local businesses. Also, he mentioned several Y staff members who helped organize the event: Liz Henry, membership coordinator; Richard Shoniker, fitness and health director; Shannon Hawsey, aquatics and wellness director; Penelope Williams, assistant programs and membership coordinator; Celeste McNeil, marketing/communications director; Rick Hawkins, facilities director; and Brandy Klingenberg and Jessica Doss, group instructors.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.