Newton groups gear up for holidays

COVINGTON - Area agencies are reminding residents that the holidays are upon us.

The Rotary Club of Covington is set to continue a decades-old tradition of providing Christmas gifts for less fortunate children in the community through its Empty Stocking Fund program.

Rotary's Empty Stocking Fund served more than 950 children in Newton County last year on a budget of approximately $15,000. This year, the club anticipates serving 1,000 children.

Applications for assistance under the program will be taken Monday through Nov. 14, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Salvation Army facility on Washington Street. Applications will be taken for children 13 years of age and younger who live in Newton County. Parents or guardians should bring Social Security cards for all children to be registered and will need proof of residence in Newton County, such as a current driver's license or utility bill.

Applications will be taken until Nov. 14 or until 1,000 children are registered, whichever comes first. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Funding for the Empty Stocking Fund is generated primarily through club projects such as Vidalia onion sales in the spring and a Sportsman Raffle in the fall and from contributions from United Way.

"Through the hard work and dedication of the members of the Rotary Club of Covington we anticipate providing Christmas gifts to 1,000 children who otherwise might not have any gifts on Christmas," club President Doug Bolton said. "We truly believe in serving our community and honoring our motto of 'Service Above Self.'"

The Newton County Department of Family and Children Services is also requesting that residents remember children who may not be as fortunate as their own.

"Our office serves children who suffer from abuse and neglect," said Alice Goolsby, program assistant, and Tracy Wynn, social services supervisor, in a printed press release. "Some of these children are in foster care while others remain in their own homes as we attempt to help their families become stabilized. These families are not able to provide for their children during the holiday season, especially in the current economy."

DFCS requests either a monetary donation earmarked for purchasing gifts for these children, or new, unwrapped toys and clothing.

Age categories include: Birth to 4 years; 5 to 10 years; and 11 to 18 years. Suggested gifts for this latter category include radio/CD players; CDs; bath and body products; hygiene products; model cars, planes, etc.

Also, businesses and other groups are encouraged to adopt families and DFCS will advise what these specific children desire for Christmas.

For more information on DFCS Christmas program, call 770-784-2432.

Gifts are tax deductible and receipts are available upon request.

Also, Repairers of the Breach is gearing up for its 10th annual Christmas Helps program which assists children and families in Newton, Rockdale and surrounding counties.

"While last year we helped 400 children and 100 families, more is expected this year due to the economic situation," stated Tony Langford, manager, in a press release.

Repairs of the Breach has a thrift store at 5120 Old Brown Bridge Road, facing Washington Street, but Langford said funds generated at the store are not sufficient to fulfill the requests for assistance they have at Christmastime.

Langford said they need monetary donations, toys, fruit, wrapping paper and other Christmas items. They will also send gifts to the Georgia Prison System and are asking for bars of soap toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant and shampoo for that outreach.

"We are sure some of the businesses in Covington and Rockdale could help us with this," she said.

The group is also asking that residents make donations to the thrift shop. Receipts will be given for tax purposes.

"Repairers of the Breach shop does something no other shop in the country does, as far as we know," Langford said. "We allow families in need to come into the store and have whatever they need at no cost to them. At Christmas the store is open to the families of the children we are helping and they can shop and get whatever they want or need."

For more information on this outreach, call 770-787-7250.