The Valdosta Daily Times
AmVets, AmVets Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of AmVets hosted another successful Annual Children’s Christmas Party Saturday for approximately 315 children.
This event is one of the major highlights of the year for AmVets. It began 23 years ago, and through the years, it has grown from serving 50 children to as many as 600 children, although this year numbers were down.
“We are so proud and look forward to making this contribution to our community even in hard economic times,” said Gerald D. Richard, AmVets Post 607 public relations officer.
The funds for this event come from the bingo program held at the post on Sundays and Thursdays. The regular bingo players are very receptive to this idea and are always encouraging others to come and support the program.
“We do have bingo players who donate toys, clothing, and stuffed animals,” Richard said. “Additionally, we get donations from Valdosta Fire Department, Valdosta Police Department and 2 Wheeled Riders. We truly appreciate their generosity.”
The organization welcomed county and city officials for the opening ceremony. This included State Rep. Dexter Sharper; Lowndes County Commissioners Bill Slaughter, Joyce Evans, Demarcus Marshall; Valdosta City Council members Joseph “Sonny” Vickers and Sandra Tooley; Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress and past Florida AmVets State Cmdr. A.J. John.
Committee Chairman Lucius Brandon ensured preparations for the party started as early as possible. The AmVets Ladies Auxiliary started bargain hunting and shopping for toys in November and they are also responsible for ensuring all gifts are wrapped, donated clothing and toys are sorted, and they put together fruit bags. The tradition of giving away tricycles/bicycles makes the party even more special for the children in attendance.
On the day of the party, AmVets, AmVets Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of AmVets come together as a team to make sure every child who attends receives a gift and is in a safe environment. The party is held for children ages 6 months to 12 years. Every child from 1 year to 12 years receives a free ticket upon entering the party which provides a chance at winning a tricycle or bicycle. Those children in the family who do not win a tricycle or bicycle receive another gift along with a fruit bag, hot dogs and punch.
“It is just a joy and honor for our organization to do this annually, not for us, as it is not about us, but for our community,” Richard said. “All the many hours of hard work to make this a reality are well worth it when we see the smiling faces on the children and their parents, knowing we have made a difference.”
To see more pictures of the Christmas party and learn more about American Veterans (AmVets), please visit our Facebook page “AMVETS Post 607”