170+ kids request help from JR’s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2014

“If I had one wish, it would be to have heat.”

That is just one of more than 170 requests from children who wrote letters to JR’s Lawnmower Shop during the fifth annual Christmas program.

“That ain’t a bunch of letters you see in there, that’s a bunch of hearts,” JR’s owner Joe Richburg said. “I know you hear a lot of programs with churches, but the difference in this thing right here is that the kid reaches out to us.”

One child wrote in just asking for help for her mother.

“Christmas is always bad for her (mom) since my grandmother died the morning after Christmas,” the child wrote. “So she cries a lot during Christmas, and even more because she can’t get us stuff.”

Another child wrote to the shop asking only for clothes for him and his siblings. The child said he and his brother were wearing shorts to school because they didn’t have long pants, “and it’s getting cold.”

Richburg said he has contacted many of these families to be sure their stories are true and to help out with their needs immediately.

“It’s true that this is in our area,” Richburg said. “We’re here to help them. How many kids ask for underwear and socks?”

Organizers are in the process of selecting the winners of the program, but have found it very difficult reading the stories.

“It got to the point that I couldn’t read them on the air,” Richburg, who partners with WOPP and WAMI for the program, said.

Gifts will be given out is a little differently this year, Richburg said. The shop will not announce the winners by name, and parents will meet with Richburg on an individual basis.

“The last four years we would have a special day and announce the winners here,” Richburg said. “We decided we would never call out the name of a kid that wins again. We will not single these kids out.

“If the winner is John Smith, well he’s got to go back to school,” he said. “If his name and picture are in the paper and TV, what’s the kids going to say to him? ‘That’s the poorest guy in the county. He won JR’s program.’ That ain’t what we want.”

Richburg said they are trying to have some pastors in line to talk with those who come to receive the gifts, he said “to let them know they’re loved. They’re going to be witnessed to.”

Richburg said this program wouldn’t be possible without the help of those who have donated, and he said one man this morning came in to donate funds for the second time because God spoke to him.

“We’ve been blessed because this is going on five years,” Richburg said. “We wanted to just do this one year and be done with it, but God ain’t foreseen that. He has continued to push this.

“This isn’t in our hands any more,” he said. “This is in God’s hands. There are a lot of needs in these letters.”

Donations are still being taken to help make area children’s Christmas better this season, and can be made by contacting JR’s Lawnmower Service at 334-493-9645, mailing in a check or stopping at the shop with cash or check.

The shop is located at 1006 West Cummings Ave., Opp, AL 36467.

Checks should be made out to Joe Richburg, for the children’s fund.