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Posted: November 17, 2012 4:12 p.m.

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Kimble: Help local families this Christmas

‘Tis the week for shopping.

Whether you shop online or in person, chances are you just might be tempted by at least one of the Black Friday deals.

So while you're shopping, I suggest you add one or two extra items.

Wait-before you stop reading-yes, I know everyone is asking for just one more item for a good cause these days.

We're bombarded with requests to round up our bill or add a few dollars, or to donate an item.

I think the more times I'm asked, the easier it is to say no.

In fact, when we started advertising this service project to 4-H'ers many said, "my mom can't buy anything extra."

We encouraged them to look for deals and specials, or pool together a few dollars with several classmates to purchase an item.

Another kid asked me, "so this stuff goes to Atlanta?"

And that's when it hit me.

It's so easy to say "no" when the cause is faceless. When it's somewhere else. When it's a big city problem, not a Newton County problem.

Sixth grade 4-H'er Lavendar Harris, a home school student, is heading up a Christmas service project for people in our own community.

She's leading 4-H'ers to assemble gifts for the families at the Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter right here in the middle of Covington.

That's right-homeless families, including children, who have no place of their own to lay their head this Christmas.

Just because we don't see people sleeping in boxes under the bridge or panhandlers at the red light doesn't mean we don't have homeless people in our community.

I remember serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Salvation Army in Columbus several years ago, I expected to serve mostly men.

I had imagined handing over plates and refilling teas for homeless people much like those I had met at the Druid Hills shelter in Decatur over the years.

Instead, I was brought to tears again and again as families came into the serving area.

Men, women and children dressed in neatly cleaned but well-worn Sunday clothes.

Families, I'm sure, trying to make this Thanksgiving dinner as normal as possible for their children.

Moms trying to forget that among the few possessions they've been able to store, save and move around there is no Christmas tree.

No stockings saved since the kids were little.

No handmade and treasured ornaments made when the kids were even younger to be hung on the tree this year.

At my house, we had a Santa door decoration made by my Aunt Pat, old metal bells that played music if you pulled the ribbon and one of those Advent calendars with a little mouse we moved each day.

I can only remember a few specific gifts Santa brought each year, but I remember when my brother got the idea to hang all the bell ornaments along the bottom of the tree so that maybe we'd catch Santa when he arrived.

I can't change Christmas for the whole world, so it might be easy to try to forget about those in need except when I remember some of those are in my own neighborhood.

Some of the 4-H'ers I meet in 5th grade each month might have more to their story than I'll ever know.

When I remember the person I see in Covington might be that person I'm helping at Christmas, I find it a little tougher to say no.

When I think of a kid who won't have those little traditions and homemade touches to remember, I realize just how important having a new toy or even some sheets for their own bed will be to this child.

So as you're out shopping over the next week, consider purchasing:

• new standard pillows,

• twin sheet sets,

• towels and washcloths,

• winter clothes,

• new toys,

• blankets,

• canned/boxed food items

• or something else a family might appreciate.

Deliver your items to the Newton County 4-H office on the second floor of the Administration Building at 1113 Usher Street by December 13 so Lavendar and the other 4-H'ers can get the gifts ready by Christmas.

Terri Kimble is the Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at (770) 784-2010. or


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