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Young Professionals to play Santa

SOUTH POINT — It’s still only a fledgling organization, but already the Young Professionals have focused on a way to give back to the community they hope one day to lead.

The Lawrence County Chamber-based young adult organization is gearing up to help out the county’s Secret Santa program, usually coordinated by the Job and Family Services Department, that has fallen victim to this year’s budget crunch.

“This is exactly why we want the Young Professionals to exist,” Casey Baker, YP organizer, said. “We have a community need and we need an organization with the ambition and desire to step up and fill the need. We are the future leaders of the county. We need to step up and be a part of the county. It is a perfect match for what we want to do and aspire to be. And we get to help kids at Christmas time.”

About a month ago, Baker, a Huntington-based lawyer and Lawrence County resident, approached the Chamber about the idea of starting a group of professionals from the county under the age of 39 as a division of the chamber.

The idea took off when the group’s initial meeting attracted a good response from a variety of professions. Now it is on its first civic project. Member Todd Fannin of South Point heard about the ending of the Secret Santa program that brings Christmas gifts to needy children.

“I didn’t want that to happen,” Fannin said. “I always had a great Christmas. I don’t want to see kids who would normally get something, not get something this year.”

Already the group has brainstormed on fund-raising ideas ranging from T-shirt sales to getting area high schools involved.

“I’ve been getting emails from everyone with ideas and logos for T-shirt,” Fannin said.

Baker admits the Young Professionals have a challenge ahead as they are starting work on the Secret Santa later than when JFS would be soliciting names for the program.

“The Job and Family Services would send out their applications beginning in October. We are already a month behind,” Baker said. “What we need from the community is manpower and support. We have a big task ahead of us and with not a lot of manpower and time. But we will do our best.”

There will be a planning meeting for the Secret Santa project at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Cross Community Church in Burlington.

The meeting is open to anyone interested in helping with the program.

“This is something for the whole community to get involved in,” Baker said.