Tifton Gazette

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December 17, 2013

Toys for Tots helps hundreds locally this holiday season

TIFTON —

More than 600 local families were served this year through the Toys for Tots/Santa’s Helpers program. Toys for Tots collects the toys and Santa’s Helpers distribute them.

Shirene Daniell, the Toys for Tots coordinator, said a total of 605 local families, which came to about 1,250 children, received an industrial trash bag filled with toys. The families have to go through an application process and then they are notified. Two days for pickup were held Monday and Tuesday at the Mell Baptist Association on North Tift Avenue.

Daniell said they try to make sure each child in a family has at least two nice things. Each family gets some type of ball and board game. Also, this year, they received a generous donation of books to give out. Daniell said they had a lot of community support, including their official fundraiser, Jog for Jake, and the business OneMain Financial, which donated $2,400 to the program. Some of the employees also helped out during the pickups.

Brad Phillips, OneMain Financial branch manager, said they were able to make a donation through their Community and Engagement Fund. Daniell said Toys for Tots appreciates the contribution.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to be a part of it,” Phillips said.

Daniell said they had a hundred or more volunteers help out during the pickups. Mrs. Claus, also known as Patty James, greeted everyone as well.

Daniell said Santa’s Helpers has been in Tifton for 25 years. Mell Baptist Association took it over about 10 years ago, and they gained Toys for Tots six years ago. All of these programs are under the United Way umbrella.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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    Pictured are the honorees of Thursday night's annual Public Safety Officer Appreciation and Awards Banquet by the Tifton Elks Lodge. Shown, from left, are Louise Spradley, who organized the banquet, Eddie Brown with the Tift County Emergency Medical Services, Sgt. Debbie Pyles with the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Police Department, Sgt. Bart Walker with the Omega Police Department, Officer of the Year honoree Thomas Catanzarita with the Tift County Sheriff's Office Jail Division, Deputy Jonathan Toledo with the TCSO, Brandi Conway with the Tifton-Tift County Animal Shelter, Georgia State Patrol Trooper Ben Taylor, Officer Brian Shockley with the Tifton Police Department and volunteer Firefighter Brian Fincher with the Chula Fire Department.

    LEOs and first responders honored at banquet

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