Our team at Flint Media would like to give some special mentions to some local businesses and individuals who have helped Secret Santa provide portable space heaters to needy families in Decatur County.
Last Friday, Nov. 21, we were told by Monica Oliver of Decatur Community Cares, which is heading up the signup for assistance from Secret Santa, that 12 local families had requested space heaters on their signup forms. The signup sheets are mostly used to list children’s clothing sizes and Christmas wish lists, so a request for a space heater is out of the ordinary, although not unexpected. Secret Santa distributed about 4-5 space heaters to families before Christmas 2013, so when we heard that 12 families needed help heating their homes this year, the Flint Media team was concerned.
We’d like to give special thanks to Moore’s Ace Hardware in Donalsonville, Ga., and to Stone’s Home Center in Bainbridge, Ga., for partnering with us to make it possible to procure most of the needed space heaters as well as several containers of kerosene fuel. A couple of our kind radio listeners generously donated space heaters, as well. We now have 10 kerosene-powered space heaters, and we need to get 2 more. (We chose kerosene-fueled space heaters because we don’t know each recipient family’s situation, so we can’t count on electricity being accessible or affordable. The kerosene heaters are also very effective at warming a large area of a home.)
Yes, it’s true that there has been unseasonably cold weather in November that may have contributed to heat being on many people’s minds. But we also know that a number of families in Decatur County are dealing with various situations that have left them struggling with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, water, power and heat. Decatur County Schools have recently identified dozens of students who are essentially homeless because they float from household to household, depending on which relative or friend will let them stay–there are also families who are “doubled up” within the same household, stretching resources.
For those interested in giving monetary donations to Secret Santa, you can drop off or mail a check to Flint Media, 521 S. Scott Street, Bainbridge, GA 39819. We are located in the Scott Street Shopping Center in Bainbridge. Donations help us buy special items like space heaters, coats and bicycles, and your support is greatly appreciated.
There are several community organizations and churches both here in Bainbridge and around Southwest Georgia whose mission includes meeting one or several of those basic needs, including but not limited to the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council.
Secret Santa began in 2004 after the Kevin Dowdy family learned of some families whose homes had burned down and needed help at Christmas time. The program has grown as the years go by, and Flint Media has partnered with several agencies and groups over the year.
This year, we’re partnered with Decatur Community Cares–a non-profit charity founded by Sherry Weaver and Monica Oliver–as well as the Decatur County Family Connection service collaborative, which is led by executive director Ronnie Burke, and Decatur County Schools social workers. With help from local businesses who have agreed to host donation/drop-off bins, Secret Santa is gathering new or lightly used toys, puzzles and games, coloring books and clothing for deserving boys and girls living in Decatur County. We are also collecting non-perishable canned food items. As we take in adequate toys and clothing, Decatur Community Cares and school social workers are putting together Christmas bundles for each family that has signed up for help.
Please consider helping us with Secret Santa, to benefit needy families in Decatur County. We have worked to ensure that the folks who receive items from Secret Santa truly need help and we are also communicating with other community agencies in an effort to eliminate duplication of services.
Secret Santa Bin Locations
- Carter’s Fried Chicken – 1124 E. Shotwell Street
- Tuten Chiropractic – 406 S. West Street
- McDaddy Motor Company – 1414 Dothan Road
- Griffin’s Uniforms – 115 S. Lamar Street
- Care Chiropractic – 922 S. West Street
- Southwest Georgia Oil Company (aka Inland) – 1711 East Shotwell Street
Secret Santa signup
1) If their children are enrolled in Decatur County Schools, talk with a guidance counselor at your child’s school. Secret Santa is working with the schools on signing up families.
2) If you have already talked to a school guidance counselor to sign up, you don’t need to contact anyone else. But if you can’t reach the school counselor, you can also call Monica Oliver with Decatur Community Cares at (229) 395-1649.