Merchants bless needy families this holiday season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2010

During these trying economic times, one local business and a radio station have teamed up to spread a little Christmas cheer to local families.

Opp’s J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop and WAMI joined forces to give away $500 to a local family who needs it.

“Our goal was to have kids 12 and under to present a letter telling us why their family could use the extra money,” said Joe Richburg, owner of J.R.’s. “The kids are writing letters saying they wouldn’t buy toys with the money. Many of them would buy shoes and food. There are a lot of families out of work.”

As it turns out, employees at J.R.’s and WAMI weren’t the only ones who stepped up to help needy families.

More than 20 local merchants and residents have sent donations as well, Richburg said.

With those donations, they now have more than $4,000.

So far, about 200 children have sent in letters, asking for all sorts of necessities.

Richburg said one little girl didn’t have a bed, but thanks to generous residents, she now has a place to lay her head.

Another child asked for a Christmas tree, and Friday night, the child received his wish, Richburg said.

“The community has stepped up and given abundantly,” he said. “The biggest thing is the giving hearts of the community. We did not ask for donations. The community just stepped up.

“Traditionally, J.R.’s gives away something at Christmas, ranging from golf carts to chainsaws, but this year the Lord spoke to my heart and reminded me that Christmas is about children,” he said.

Richburg said his company donated $500 for the first place prize, the next day a local businessman gave money for the second place prize and another for a third place prize.

The rest of the $4,000 will be distributed as far as it can, he said.

Richburg said it’s going to be a tough decision to decide exactly who will win, and it’s a decision the donators will help make.

Children in the WAMI listening area who have not sent in their letters have until Dec. 15 to do so. Mail letters to J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop P.O. Box 329 Opp, AL 36467 or drop them off.

Local merchants or residents who wish to donate money or specific items children have requested, are asked to call Richburg at 493-9645.