A Chicago Bears Merry Christmas

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 14, 2001

Features Editor

Reindeer, lambs, donkeys, cattle and, even, mice are often associated with Christmas, but a Bear?

Even though most children don’t think of Bears when they think of Christmas, 132 children, between the ages of 3 and 5 at the Troy and Brundidge Head Start programs, are the exceptions.

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A Bear will make their Christmases much merrier this year.

However, the Bear is not the fuzzy-wuzzy kind. He’s a giant of a man who straps on a helmet on Sunday afternoons and grabs footballs out of the air for the Chicago Bears professional football team.

Fred Baxter, who was a a gridiron star at Pike County High School and Auburn University before being drafted into the National Football League, has donated $5,000 to the Head Start programs to purchase Christmas gifts for the young children.

"We wanted to be able to buy some educational toys for the children and also some necessary items, such as underwear and socks," said Lanesa May, family services specialist with Head Start.

"Because we didn’t have the funds to do that, we started looking for possible resources. "

And, what they "found" was a Bear with a big heart.

"Someone suggested Fred Baxter because he’s from Pike County and

they knew he is very interested in children and their welfare," May said.

Baxter’s sister, Altrena Baxter, works with Head Start and was able to put May in touch with her brother via cell phone.

"We talked to Fred and told him that we would like to have $25 to spend on each child, May said. "He asked me how much that would come to. I told

him about $3,000. He said ‘no problem’ and he would send us a check for $5,000. He was very willing and much more generous in his giving than we asked. We want to thank him because his donation will help our children to have a merry Christmas and also help them be better prepared for entering kindergarten and first grade."

May also expressed appreciation to First United Methodist Church of Troy for their generous donation to Head Start and to the Rev. John Brannon, church pastor, and his wife, Janice, for their individual donation which will be also used to purchase educational toys for the Head Start children this Christmas.