The Valdosta Daily Times
The American Veterans’ 27th annual Christmas party and bike giveaway returned just in time to ease the financial burden of the holidays Saturday afternoon at Post 607, as the organization awarded bikes to winning ticket holders and sent their families home with gifts.
Hundreds of children waited attentively, with hopes that their ticket would award them one of the 70 bicycles on showcase and earn them gifts for every one in their group. Outside, volunteers Gail Spencer and Buelah Choice gifted stuffed animals to anyone who needed a new friend and they handed out necklaces to the adults.
“Veterans and their families should never be forgotten and that’s the message we try to send to the world,” said Finance Officer Luscious Brantley, who chaired the event. Brantley said most of the events’ funds came from AmVets’ bingo program, but it took a little help from everyone.
“We give back what we take in,” said Brantley. “AmVets is all about helping needy veterans and their families, but we try to help everyone who needs it. Times have been hard. We asked our members to donate some bicycles this year so that our stock of bikes didn’t suffer too much, and they did. Walmart also donated some bikes as well.”
After ten years of working at a day care, Marita Davis said she became more active in AmVets so that she could help veterans and children in need.
“I’m helping out today because I love kids and I appreciate the work that AmVets does for our veterans and their families,” said Davis. “All of my kids are here helping out too and they seem like they’re having a really good time.”
Lifetime AmVets member and former Air Force sergeant Martha Vaughn, said she’s seen many Christmas parties and bike giveaways, but her passion for aiding veterans and their families has not wavered since joining the organization in 2002.
“We’re here all of the time doing stuff for the community,” said Vaughn. “People come out for bicycles and other gifts, because so many families aren’t fortunate enough to afford a bike for their kids. So they’re out here hoping to win a bike for their child, while enjoying good food and making new friends.”
AmVets gave away 70 bikes this year, though Vaughn said the club normally aims to hand out more.
“We decreased our stock this year because we couldn’t afford it,” said Vaughn. “So we’re open to all of the support that we can get. We start collecting bikes in July.”
To find out how you can donate to AmVets, visit the organization on-line at AmVets.org or stop by the Valdosta Post at 728 East Hill Avenue, Valdosta, Ga. 31601.