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Club News
The Giving Side of Christmas

Photo from the Clayton News Daily.com

Photo from the Clayton News Daily.com

A very Merry Christmas came to the Department of Family and Children’s Services children last week in an unconventional way. Usually, people give gifts to the children at DFACS, but not so last week! The children actually got to shop for gifts for others.

The idea was the brainchild of Lake Spivey/Clayton County Club Past President Tom Mertl. He served as the Chair of the DFACS Board for 20 years and has a heart for the children. He noticed the children were receiving gifts but did not have the opportunity of experiencing the joy of giving. He started the “Giving Side of Christmas” and the event has been a huge success.

This is the tenth year the foster children of Clayton County have had the opportunity to experience the joy of giving at Christmas. The Club partnered with the Department of Family and Children Services, and held the event there for the first six years.Four years ago, First Baptist Jonesboro, led by Melody Allred, offered to host the event at the Church.

It’s an effective concept that simulates the buying and giving experience. The children come to the Recreational Outreach Center and as they eat pizza, they make out a Christmas list of people they would like to give gifts to at Christmas.The lists usually include their foster parents, sometimes biological parents, biological and foster siblings, grandparents and other relatives, and close friends.

For each one on their list they are given a “Rotary Buck." with the picture of current Club President Gina McCombs. They are assigned a personal shopper who takes them to the “Christmas Store." Everything costs one Rotary buck. The shopper helps them make their selections and they take their purchases to one of the wrapping stations. A Rotary or Church volunteer wraps the presents, puts the name tags on them and puts all the purchases in a shopping bag.

The children leave with Christmas to give. They are able to enjoy the complete Christmas experience.

After they shop, they enjoy playing in the gym with inflatables and games. Most importantly, they visit and have a picture taken with Santa Claus.

The foster parents are also given a much deserved fellowship time while their children are taken care of by the Rotary and Church volunteers.

The merchandise and monetary contributions are donated by Rotary Club members, DFACS employees, Church members and friends of the program.

“We believe that this program has the opportunity to teach a few life lessons. One of them is that the true joy of Christmas is the giving side," says Tom Mertl.

Posted by Claudia Mertl
January 9, 2018

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