Archived Story

Young Professionals raise $30,000 for holiday gifts

Published 11:02pm Wednesday, December 23, 2009

SOUTH POINT — The former South Point Elementary School, now the home of Cross Community Church, was the site of the final phase of the efforts by the newly formed Young Professionals to bring Christmas to 401 Lawrence County children.

This past Sunday parents lined up at the former school to accept clothing and toys that the Young Professionals were able to provide after they took over the county’s Secret Santa program.

“We couldn’t have done it without everyone in the community,” Casey Baker of the Young Professionals, said. “The Lawrence County Young Professionals coordinated the event, but there is no way this could have gotten done without the entire community helping.”

The group, a part of the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce, discovered that the county’s Job and Family Services was not going to coordinate the program that provides Christmas for needy children.

Although the Young Professionals only worked on the program since October, the members were able to raise from donations of cash, gifts, toys and sponsorships $30,000. This went not only for toys for the youngsters but also some basic necessities.

“Our first choice on every child was whether they needed coats, gloves, shoes and boots,” Baker said. “That is where we went first. If there was money left over that is where we bought the toy.”

The YPs used as its guide a card each parent filled out as to the needs and wants of their children.

“We went according to those requests and tried to use our best judgment on what the kids really needed and wanted,” Baker said. “We had such good luck raising money we were able to get every child who wanted one a bike.”

All told there were 60 bicycles, new and gently used given away. Jeff’s Bike Shop in Huntington, W.Va., donated 17 of the almost new bikes and TIPS (Transportation Injury Prevention and Safety program) provided a helmet for each bike.

The YPs provided stocking stuffers and the county American Legion provided fresh fruit. Cross Community Church, Wade’s Work and Western Wear and Praises Bookstore in Portsmouth made Bibles available for those parents who wanted one. And each family was given a voucher for a free frozen turkey that the families picked up from Liebert’s. The turkeys were provided by Grandma’s Gifts.

The chamber group spent the past week and half putting in 12 to 16-hour days on the project from shopping to gift-wrapping.

“People were at our distribution center by 5 a.m. Saturday to get everything ready for distribution on Sunday,” Baker said. “There are a lot of very tried Young Professionals. Hopefully we will take a couple of weeks off. Then have our regular meeting in January and try to set an agenda for the upcoming year.”

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