Project Merry Christmas a success

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 31, 2007

LINDEN &045; On Christmas morning, many families in Marengo County were given a little extra reason to be excited for the holidays.

According to Mary Sue Henry, coordinator for Marengo County DHR&8217;s &8220;Project Merry Christmas,&8221; this year&8217;s drive raised the most money she has seen since being involved in the project.

When the project was originally begun in 1979, it was for foster children to receive presents. Now, the project includes not only children, but also families and elderly need adults also.

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Henry said this year there were 452 applicants for the project and they were able to bring 743 children toys and gifts. They also assisted 25 elderly adults with clothing, medicine and other needs. Finally, 75 different families were sponsored through churches, businesses and civic groups.

They begin their fundraising efforts as early as October by mailing letters to past and potential contributors requesting financial support for the program.

Henry said each year there are certain groups and individuals they can always count on for donations, but they also have a wide range of first time donors each year. For example, this year the LHS Beta Club and Student Council teamed up to make a donation.

Not all of their gifts are toys, however. Henry said they receive donations of canned goods, and they often have special requests.

They also try to cater to families with special needs.

After they receive all their donations, then begins the process of distributing all the toys, clothes, canned goods and other items they have to give. One of their biggest helpers during this process is the Tombigbee Emergency Medical Services staff, which helped bag up and distribute toys to the children before Christmas morning.

Other families are given vouchers to purchase the items on their Christmas lists.

Henry said many of the families who benefit from their project are &8220;just overcome&8221; with the donations they receive. After this year&8217;s project, Henry said she will be gearing up again to do it all over again next year.