Lt. Col. Rooker led me into Santa’s Village on APS volunteer day. It was great to see our staff helping families in need. Last month many of them donated money towards this cause, so it was cool to see how that donation manifested into this event. All 30,000 square feet of this once-vacant retail space had been transformed to hold $1.2 million worth of toys.
In the showroom, volunteers helped parents pick out items based on their child’s age and gender. Each family was able to select two toys and a book. They also received three pairs of socks.
I headed to the back and grabbed a cart to “shop” for selected items. Isaac Sparks from our Office of High Schools handed me a printout with items for one family. This is his third year as a volunteer and he says his favorite part is seeing the smiles on children’s faces. Backpack Bear sat front and center and helped find items to load the shopping cart. Whew! This was hard work. It took me a moment to get oriented – all of the rows of toys were carefully labeled, but I knew parents were waiting for their gifts in the lobby area, so I wanted to complete my task as quickly as possible.
I headed to the delivery table time and time again. After filling about ten shopping carts, more APS volunteers double-checked orders and delivered them to patient parents. It was incredible to hear firsthand what this meant to them and witness their genuine appreciation.
A busload of Therrell High School JROTC cadets arrived and offered relief to the morning volunteers. It’s hard to believe APS employee participation day began accidentally. One year when the cadet service program was scheduled during final exams, CLL employees answered the last-minute plea to help. Boy did they deliver!
Families on the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services roster receive an invitation to Santa’s Village, and in many cases, these children are APS students. I met and talked to many APS families and it’s a great feeling to know they won’t have an empty stocking this year!
We are proud to announce that volunteers and cadets serviced 2,435 kids yesterday, the largest one-day total of the year. 107 APS Central Office volunteers and 114 JROTC cadets from Therrell, N. Atlanta, S. Atlanta, and Douglass High Schools participated.
I am so grateful for this experience…just grateful.