GHS grad gives back for X-Mas

Published 5:25 pm Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dozens of local youngsters had their Christmas dream come true on Wednesday at Beeland Park, and it all started with a phone call.

A few weeks ago, Huntsville businessman Fred Burnett, a 1985 Greenville High School graduate, contacted mayor pro-tem Jeddo Bell about a project. And Bell in turn called mayor Dexter McLendon.

“Jeddo called me at home and said Fred grew up here and wanted to give something back to the city and county . . . I don’t get many calls like that at home. It’s usually complaints,” McLendon said. “There are people like Fred Burnett who do want to give something back to the community, especially in these tough times. He told me he remembered some difficult times when he was growing up . . . and he wanted to give children a bike who otherwise might not get one this Christmas.”

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And so began the joint project between Burnett, who donated 61 bikes, trikes and helmets, and city and county agencies, including the offices of the mayor, police and fire chiefs, Lt. Anthony Barganier of the GPD, the Butler County Department of Human Resources and the City of Greenville Parks and Recreation Department.

“We couldn’t have done this without the help of a number of folks,” McLendon said.

Many of those “Santa’s helpers” along with Santa himself, were present on Wednesday morning as the children and their parents enjoyed Christmas cookies and punch and listened to holiday music provided by April Lowery and Pat Lewis.

Members of the Greenville High School basketball team helped the children and their family members carry the individually tagged bikes and trikes and their safety helmets (which Burnett urged the children to be sure and wear) to their vehicles.

“I wanted to do something to help the kids and bless the kids in Greenville. Today, I feel joy. Happiness,” Burnett said.

“It’s so important to give, especially in tough times like now. And I don’t just mean material things. Give your time, your heart. Don’t hold back but give. We all need to do that.”