VALDOSTA -- The holiday season is not looking bright and cheery for some area children.

Paula Johns, victim service director for the Southern Judicial Circuit, said she has 45-plus children who need individuals, families, and businesses to adopt them during the holidays. Without a little philanthropic intervention, she said these young victims of crime will not have a "Merry Christmas" this year.

The holiday effort is a first for the District Attorney's Office of the Southern Judicial Circuit, whose staff has been working since November to collect the much-desired gifts. Many have already been helped. However, more is needed.

Johns said the goal is to put smiles on the faces of children whose lives have been affected by violent crimes, including child and sexual abuse, family violence, assault, and homicide.

"Everyday we work with kids who are not fortunate," she said recently. "Many of these kids have not and will not have gifts without our help."

Johns said the holiday season is about giving and showing love, helping those with needs, and showering others with blessings that others have been so freely given. She said it's an opportunity for residents of Lowndes County to show these innocent victims that there are people out there who care about them and want to help put them on a path to a more positive future.

"It makes these kids feel good to write down something they wish for and actually get it," she said.

Johns said the magic of the holiday season gives them hope that there is something better out there.

For information, please contact Paula Johns, Southern Judicial Circuit victim service director, at (229) 244-7170.

The deadline for gifts is Thursday, Dec. 16.

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