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Christmas Program seeks contributions

Features Editor

The tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001 brought out the best in Americans.

The outpouring of caring and concern was almost overwhelming and Mashone Fleming, chairman of the Pike County Christmas Program, said it was wonderful to see how people opened their hearts and pocketbooks to help the families of the victims.

However, there are those in need here in Pike County and she hopes the same spirit of caring will be displayed on the local level during the holiday season.

"People were so generous with their giving after the Sept. 11 attacks and I think that is the reason the money hasn’t come into the Pike County Christmas Program like it has in years past," Fleming said. "The needs are still here and they are great and I believe people will support the program as they have in the past. We’re just off to a slower start."

The Pike County Christmas Program is a non-profit organization that assists foster children, less fortunate children and girls in the group home in Troy during the holiday season.

"We also provide assistance to the elderly when we are financially able," Fleming said. "But, our main focus is children."

The goal of the Pike County Christmas Program is to be able to spend $25 on each child, who is

recommended for the program by the Department of Human Resources.

"It is surprising what you can buy for a child for $25," Fleming said.

"When a child would have had nothing, what he or she receives through the Christmas Program is huge."

Donations in any amount are appreciated and add up to a merry Christmas for the children.

"When someone gives $5 and someone else gives $10, soon there is enough money to make a little child have a very special Christmas," Fleming said.

"We have some individuals and some groups that adopt a family for the holidays. That is always an option for those who want to do more than make a donation to the program."

Families who were recipients of the program in 1999 and 2000 are not eligible this year.

"We made a decision to disqualify families who have been in the program for two years because we didn’t want anyone to begin to depend on the system," Fleming said. "The families who are assisted by the Pike County Christmas Program are legitimately in need."

The program also needs volunteers who will work at the distribution center at the Pike County Fairgrounds Dec. 21.

"I think when people help with the distribution and see the families they are helping they

become even more committed to the program," Fleming said. "Last year, one man wrote a note of thanks for the wonderful Christmas he and his family had because of the generosity of others. He said nobody had ever helped his family in that way before and it was the best Christmas he had ever had. Hearing things like that makes me know that the Pike County Christmas Program is making a difference for many children and their

families each year."

Donations to the Pike County Christmas Program may be mailed to Post Office Box 1276, Troy, AL 36081. For more information, call 808-2036.