Cox teaches art to more than 700 children. When she learned at a Christmas luncheon year before last that some foster children get only $25 from the government to spend on Christmas, she decided to let her students produce art and then organized an auction to sell it. She had read about the idea for the auction in a magazine.

Cox stressed to her students the importance of character traits like generosity, responsibility and cooperation prior to them painting their pictures for the auction.

"I think they learned to think about others," Cox said. "They learned a little about doing something for somebody else, and they need that."

Cox also spoke at civic group meetings around Ocilla and talked about what Make a Difference Day is and how it would tie into the auction. She read about the program in The Tifton Gazette and was more familiar with it than others who don't receive the newspaper and the USA WEEKEND supplement.

A panel of teachers chose 150 of the students' paintings to sell at the silent and live auctions.

"I didn't want to be the one who chose them," Cox said.

The Make a Difference Day Children's Art Auction was held on Oct. 23, 2004, on Make A Difference Day. Cox said the Ocilla Community House was packed with 300-400 people and the students were amazed that their works sold.

"A few of them made more than others," Cox said. "The price of one child's art kept going up and the parents made her give one half of the selling price to the foster kids."

Many of the children gave half of their earnings to the cause and several more gave everything they had made.

After the auction, Cox presented Mary Jo Norman of the Department of Family and Children Services a check for $6,000.

Cox said plans are already underway for next year's auction.

"We are already talking about it," she said. "As soon as the CRCTs are out of the way, we'll plan for this year's."

To contact city editor Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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