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Stocking Full of Love to deliver Christmas joy

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About 1,500 motorcyclists travel along Battlefield Parkway from Fort Oglethorpe to Ringgold during a previous Stocking Full of Love Toy Run. This year’s ride will be Dec. 6. Photo by Marcella Colburn

While gathered with family and friends to enjoy Thanksgiving this week, know that you can help brighten the season for hundreds of less fortunate children by donating to the 23rd annual Stocking Full of Love toy drive sponsored by the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Phil Summers encourages residents to help can help by contributing. Generous donations from Catoosa County citizens made it possible for the Stocking Full of Love to provide Christmas toys to 1,198 boys and girls last year.

“I have definitely seen it grown from year to year,” said Sandy Church, the sheriff’s secretary. “This year we expect an even greater demand for services which will cause an increased need for donations.

Beginning Dec. 1, names of children who would benefit from this program will be gathered from schools, civic organizations and state agencies, Church said.

Individuals needing assistance with Christmas should call either (706) 965-7138 or (706) 965-7139 for an appointment.

“Leave a message if necessary, and someone will return your call,” she said, adding that names will only be accepted Dec. 1 through Dec. 10.

RIDE FOR THE KIDS DEC. 6

Motorcyclists wanting to help make Christmas brighter for needy children in Catoosa County are invited to particiape in the Stocking Full of Love Toy Run, an escorted ride, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 6, beginning at 2 p.m.. Riders are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys to the shopping center at the intersection of Cloud Springs and LaFayette roads in Fort Oglethorpe. Anyone unable to attend the ride can deposit toys or cash donations at Gateway Bank locations in either Fort Oglethorpe or Ringgold.

After Dec. 10, donated toys will be sorted and more toys purchased with cash donations — all dedicated to bringing the joy of Christmas to hundreds of area children.

County employees volunteer their time to make this annual even a success. One of them, Sheriff’s Deputy Meredith Sisk, said she has been involved with the Stocking Full of Love program for about 15 years by picking up, sorting and wrapping toys for delivery.

One incident in particular remains fresh in her memory.

“Last year, a family that usually contributed to the Stocking Full of Love lost everything when their home burned just before Christmas and we ended up helping them,” the deputy said.

It is not every year that something as dramatic as a house fire occurs, but Deputy Sisk said many families may experience events that require them to ask for help to bring Santa into their home this year.

“We are expecting a lot more requests because of the bad economy,” she said. “I’ll be surprised if we don’t have 1,500 children that need help this year.”

Working to assure a successful Stocking Full of Love drive is a chore that Deputy Sisk said she and other volunteers enjoy.

“It is the season of giving,” she said.

Anyone wishing to donate new toys can bring them, unwrapped, to the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, located just north of Ringgold on U.S. Highway 41, or contact the Sheriff’s Office to have toys picked up at a residence or business.

Monetary donations should be by check, payable to the Catoosa County Stocking Full of Love, and mailed to the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office at P.O. Box 909; Ringgold, Ga, 30736.

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