Granting wishes

Michael Holahan/Staff
Augusta Urban Ministries volunteer Fiona Johnson gathers some gifts to distribute. The ministry gave out more than 4,000 toys to 801 families Saturday in its White Christmas program.
  • Follow Metro

Inside a sprawling warehouse two weeks before Christmas, there were shiny, pink bicycles with frilly baskets, boxed up basketballs with pint-sized hoops and who knows what else concealed by neatly folded wrapping paper.

Back | Next
Augusta Urban Ministries volunteers Qushona Turner (from left), 13, Penazea Hill, 12, and Alissa Greene, 12, talk and giggle as they wait in line to pick up Christmas gifts for distribution during the ministry's annual toy giveaway Saturday.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Augusta Urban Ministries volunteers Qushona Turner (from left), 13, Penazea Hill, 12, and Alissa Greene, 12, talk and giggle as they wait in line to pick up Christmas gifts for distribution during the ministry's annual toy giveaway Saturday.

The presents were lined up in rows and assigned numbers, waiting for those with empty spaces under their Christmas trees to take them home.

"My youngest said Santa Claus isn't real because he never got what he wanted before this," Tina Allen said as she stood outside Augusta Urban Ministries' Warehouse Saturday. "Now he'll actually have a real Christmas."

For 20 years, Augusta Urban Ministries has collected toys and donations for children who otherwise would have nothing to unwrap on Christmas morning. Volunteers handed out more than 4,000 toys to 801 families Saturday for this year's White Christmas program.

Since her husband got laid off from his cabinetry job last year, Allen said, she has struggled to pay rent and water bills, let alone try to buy Christmas presents.

"It just tore me to pieces thinking they weren't going to have nothing for Christmas," Allen said of her four children. "I'd just cry."

"I'd cry, too, if I didn't have anything for Christmas," said Allen's daughter Salina, 8, as she clung to her mother outside. "All the other kids have gifts."

Ministry director Rick Herring said while his group focuses on aid for the homeless most of the year, December is dedicated to helping children.

Families begin applying for the gift giveaway in October and qualify based on income.

Parents fill out a wish list and request gifts for their children. They must prove their household runs on $11,000 for one person or $22,000 for up to eight people.

Since October, donors have adopted those families' wish lists.

"It's a good, good, day," Herring said.

As families lined up to collect their gifts, about 150 volunteers worked like Santa's helpers to grab ticket numbers from parents, run in the warehouse to collect the gifts and carry the presents to cars.

Carl Miller, an eighth-grader at Tutt Middle School, volunteered with 10 other Builders Club members to help pass out gifts to families.

He ran through the warehouse clutching the families' numbered tickets used to identify their presents and emerged wheeling bikes and carrying boxes to parents.

"It's pretty fun giving out gifts," he said, catching his breath after loading boxes into a mother's car. "I just like helping people. It feels good, and it makes me glad I have stuff today."

Comments (2) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
crackerjack
150
Points
crackerjack 12/12/10 - 06:24 am
0
0
I think it's wonderful

I think it's wonderful helping out needy children having a wonderful christmas, and hope the parent(s) don't return the bicycles to walmart as they did last year for gift cards to sell for cash.

JRE
62
Points
JRE 12/12/10 - 01:00 pm
0
0
Thanks to Rick and all of

Thanks to Rick and all of Augusta Urban Ministries for helping these children have gifts for Christmas - MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs