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ANDREW PEABODY: Making the holidays brighter for those in need

As a newcomer to the community, I was blessed to arrive just in time for the holidays — and the weekend of Dec. 7 and 8 turned into a particularly inspiring introduction to how the community partners with Rockdale Emergency Relief at Christmastime!

Saturday morning started off with the 23rd annual Holiday Toy Ride, sponsored (as always) by the Conyers Riding Association (CRA). The event began at Target on Ga. Highway 20 and with the assistance of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office wound its way around to end up at the Harley Davidson dealership on Dogwood Drive. Despite chilly weather and threatening skies, it was a phenomenal event with some 128 cycles (plus many additional riders who doubled up on bikes) and a couple dozen more well-wishers and/or family members. The riders collected toys for distribution by RER to needy kids, and also raised more than $7,000 in financial contributions to support the ongoing mission of RER. At the end of the event everyone gathered for a cookout celebration with raffle prizes.

After that great start to the day, on Saturday afternoon Susan Clark (manager of our RER Community Food Bank) and I were then able to spend time with kids who came to the Share with Santa event at the Corner Market (intersection of Parker Rd. and Flat Shoals Rd.) Participants were asked by organizers to bring non-perishable food donations to help those who receive food through the RER food bank.

Then on Sunday morning, I was able to be a part of the annual Empty Stocking Fund partnership between RER, the Rockdale and Conyers Rotary Clubs, and the local Interact Clubs. The event once again involved an early a.m. visit to the Target on Ga. Highway 20. Once there, nearly $10,000 worth of toys were purchased ($9,555.40) for more than 200 needy kids in the community. The Rotarians and Interact volunteers made quick and joyful work of their “elf-ing” duties, and most all were done in time to head their respective ways for their regular Sunday morning routines.

On Monday morning we began contacting the households who will be receiving toys from RER this year. Between the toys purchased by the Rotarians on Sunday, toys donated by the Toy Ride participants on Saturday, and toys given by other individuals and groups in the community, RER will be helping needy families provide toys to more than 340 children this holiday season!

At RER we want to celebrate all of the partners in the community who join hands at this time of year to make others’ lives a bit brighter! We also want to thank the Citizen for helping us do so by sharing that news! We’ll be posting photos from the Toy Ride and Empty Stocking Fund events on our website and Facebook pages – please feel free to check them out online.

www.rockdalecountyemergencyrelief.org

Rockdale Emergency Relief on Facebook.

Andrew Peabody

Executive Director

Rockdale Emergency Relief