First National Bank plays Santa at Pike Activity Center

Published 11:00 pm Monday, December 16, 2013

The clients at Pike Activity Center in Brundidge waited, but not too patiently, Monday for Christmas to come.

“Around Halloween, the clients started asking when Christmas is coming,” said Danny Zapata, director of the East Central Mental Health adult daycare center. “All year long, they look forward to this Christmas party, which is hosted by First National Bank. For some of our clients, this is the only Christmas party they will have and, for others, the only Christmas they will have.”

Zapata said 2013 is the 12th year that First National has hosted the Christmas party for the clients.

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“We really appreciate First National doing this each year,” Zapata said. “It means a lot to all of our clients.”

However, Jimmy Ramage, FNB board chair, said that it means even more to the bank employees.

“Years ago, our employees decided that, instead of exchanging gifts among themselves, they would rather give to others,” Ramage said. “When we see the excitement on the faces of the clients and their genuine appreciation for what they receive, we realize that it is more blessed to give.”

Ramage said the clients each have a wish list and those lists are made available to the bank employees.

“The clients are identified only by a number so no one knows who’s buying for whom,” Zapata said. “The clients get something that they really want and, when their presents are opened, the room is filled with happy people. This is what Christmas is all about.”

Zapata said the Christmas party is also an opportunity for the clients to meet people and make new friends.

“For our clients, this party is a chance to get to know the people at the bank and for the people at the bank to know them,” he said. “ECMH likes for us to be involved in the community and this is one way that our clients can be a part of the community.”

Pike Activity Center has 27 clients with three more to join them soon.

“We have clients from all across the county,” Zapata said. “The Center is open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. five days a week. We teach independent living skills, such as how to wash clothes and pay a bill.”

Qualified applicants for the adult day care program are placed on a statewide waiting list until a place is available.

Zapata said there are seven residential group homes in Troy. The homes are three, six and nine bed facilities and are operated by ECMH.