VALDOSTA – The City of Valdosta is making the holiday season special for persons with developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs who reside at the Parkwood Developmental Center. On Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m., Mayor John Gayle, VFD Fire Chief Freddie Broome and members of the Valdosta Fire Department will deliver gifts to more than 100 patients—ages 7 to 73—who reside at the facility, as part of the annual Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade.
Each year, Valdosta, along with other cities across Georgia, collects and delivers gifts to patients at state behavioral health hospitals through the annual Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade, sponsored by the Georgia Municipal Association. However, due to the closure of the Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville several years ago, the nearest state hospital serving Valdosta patients is located in Columbus. Instead of collecting and transporting these gifts to a distant community, Mayor Gayle and the Valdosta Fire Department have been spreading cheer to the local residents at the Parkwood Development Center.
“I encourage the citizens and businesses of our generous community to remember those who are less fortunate during the holiday season—particularly these patients, some of which have resided at the Parkwood Developmental Center since it opened over 30 years ago,” said Mayor John Gayle. “Facilities like these are committed to providing quality-of-life care and life-skills training to people who cannot live independently—a service that is both needed and appreciated in our community.”
Local businesses, civic organizations, churches, schools, scout troops, and other interested groups or individuals are encouraged to help with the collection of gifts for this event. Items being collected for patients in time for the holidays include clothing for men and women, hair dryers, small radios and clocks, matchbox cars/trucks, small musical instruments, and toiletries such as solid deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
Monetary donations are also welcomed and will be used to purchase uncollected items on the list. Unwrapped donations and checks made payable to the Valdosta Fire Department may be accepted through Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the Fire Department’s Administrative Office, located at 106 S. Oak Street. Additional drop boxes for non-monetary donations are located on the third floor of the Valdosta City Hall and the Valdosta Customer Service Center at 102 Lee Street.