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Community Christmas among UF agencies

To say that it is a united effort to make Andalusia Community Christmas a success would be an understatement on many fronts.

After all, it takes the commitment of the community, an army of volunteers and hosts of financial contributions – including one from the Covington County United Fund – to raise the more than $50,000 it takes to provide Christmas for 600-plus needy children.

ACC is one of 17 organizations throughout the county set to receive financial assistance from the CCUF. Only two weeks remain to raise this year’s goal of $115,000.

“Last year, we had more than 650 kids that we provided for,” said Larry Avery, ACC organizer. “Community Christmas works by having the community adopt ‘angels.’ Then, purchasing gifts for those ‘angels.’ We recommend about $60 be spent on each child. That doesn’t buy a lot, so people usually spend more.

“Of those 650 children, (Community Christmas) had to shop for between 75 and 80, because we couldn’t get sponsors for them,” he said. “That money came straight from our general fund. That’s where the money from United Fund comes in. Without it and the donations from the community, I don’t know how we could have done it.”

In addition to the “presents,” 150 bicycles are also given away each year at Community Christmas, he said.

“When you go and buy 150 bicycles, that’s $8,000-$9,000 easy,” he said. “I figured it up last year, and at $60 per child, that comes to $47,500 each year to make Community Christmas happen.”

Avery said “fortunately” the community picks up about 85 percent of overall price tag, with the remaining 15 percent coming from the organization’s general fund.

In addition to the donations, swarms of volunteers worked countless hours sorting, bagging and distributing presents, constructing bicycles and working to manage the crowd on the night of the event.

Each year, many children in Covington County are given a Christmas thanks to the community’s donations. File photo