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DHR’s holiday projects prove successful

Kelly Sanders, above left, worked with volunteers to help prepare and deliver more than 400 turkey meals to hungry families throughout Pike and Crenshaw Counties. (Photo courtesy of The Troy Messenger)

Kelly Sanders, above left, worked with volunteers to help prepare and deliver more than 400 turkey meals to hungry families throughout Pike and Crenshaw Counties. (Photo courtesy of The Troy Messenger)

Once again this Christmas season, the Crenshaw County Department of Human Resources (DHR) set out to help families in need in the community through their Operation Santa Claus fundraiser.

“Operation Santa Claus was a huge success. This year, we were able to sponsor over 300 children,” said Crenshaw County DHR Director Kristi Maddox.

“I don’t believe we turned anybody down. Most everybody who applied did qualify. Unfortunately, we are a very poor county, but Crenshaw County is just a very generous county.”

Applications for the program are placed in the lobby of DHR before Thanksgiving, and the criteria for the assistance is based on the same criteria used for the food stamp program offered by DHR.

“I have now had the honor of working in three counties, but I have never seen the support in other counties like I have from the people in Crenshaw County,” Maddox said.

“For a county of our size to be so small, it’s amazing to see what we are able to do. For us to support over 300 children, in counties much larger than ours, I have not seen them sponsor that many children.”

Maddox notes that this year’s annual Crenshaw County Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Crenshaw County Chamber of Commerce, brought in many of the toys needed to reach this goal of helping over 300 children.

“With the parade the Chamber puts on, we were able to supplement the money that is donated to DHR with the toys,” she said.

“The Chamber asks that all parade entrances donate toys, and so we had a huge turnout for the parade. All the bikers came out, and they donated a lot of toys this year, like they always do, and so did all the other parade entrances.”

Along with toy donations, DHR also received many monetary donations to purchase other items such as clothing.

Maddox notes that DHR also advertises the opportunity for members of the community to become child and family sponsors for the season.

In addition to the children who received sponsorship, several adults, whom are served through the Adult Protective Services program, were able to receive sponsorship as well.

“We have three elderly people that are in the nursing home, and then we have 30 adult daycare clients that we serve,” Maddox said.

“And then we have five clients who are open Protective Services clients. Those are clients that are either at risk for abuse or neglect, either because of physical or mental disabilities.”

Maddox is thankful for all of the support gathered from Crenshaw County to make this program a success.

During the holiday, Maddox and a few other residents of Crenshaw County also had the chance to participate in another holiday fundraiser called Turkeys from Heaven, which was held in Troy.

After a successful year in 2015, Turkeys from Heaven was able to serve more than 400 turkey meals to hungry families throughout Pike and Crenshaw Counties.

Kelly Sanders organized Turkeys from Heaven in the Troy area three years ago after learning about the program from a friend who organized the program in Dothan.

This year, the Troy program was extended to Crenshaw County and included 80 residents in that area in need of a helping hand.

“It excites me to see so many people involved in making Christmas brighter for those who are less fortunate,” Sanders said.

“Oh, yes. It is so great to experience the joy of giving and to know that people accept with open hearts.”

Maddox and Sanders have been friends for years, so one year Maddox decided to join Sanders in the program.

After participating, it was decided that the program could broaden to help others in Crenshaw as well.

Maddox notes that the experience was amazing to see. She continues to be impressed at the growth of the program and the amount of people they were able to serve in Pike and Crenshaw Counties.

“In Crenshaw County, we support each other, take care of each other and it’s just the time of year to give back to those who need that help and support,” Maddox said.

“If it weren’t for people supporting a sponsoring, I don’t know that these people would have the things they need or have a Thanksgiving and Christmas.”