//Five Ways to Make Holidays Happier for Those in Need This Season

Five Ways to Make Holidays Happier for Those in Need This Season

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VALDOSTA — The City of Valdosta is doing its part to make this holiday season special for selected participants of five local programs: the Heroes for Tots Program, the Shop with a Cop and Shop with a Firefighter Programs, the Mayor’s Gift Drive for the Parkwood Developmental Center and the annual Give a Child a Bike program.

Heroes for Tots. The Valdosta Fire and Police Departments, along with other Public Safety agencies in our area, will compete on Saturday Dec. 13, in the Heroes for Tots Softball Tournament, to benefit area children during the holidays. The tournament, which takes place at Freedom Park on Guest Road, begins at 9 a.m. with the VFD and VPD teams playing in the first game. Citizens are invited to attend to cheer on our heroes. Admission into the park to watch the tournament is an unwrapped new toy or a monetary donation to benefit the cause. Toys will be delivered to local children in time for Christmas. For information, call Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Chris Kelch at (229) 333-5215.

Shop with a Firefighter/Shop with a Cop Programs. The Valdosta Fire Department (VFD) and the Valdosta Police Department (VPD) are collecting monetary donations for their annual Shop with a Firefighter and Shop with Cop events, which will take place on Dec. 16 and Dec. 22 respectively. The purpose of these two programs is to brighten the holiday season for Valdosta children and their families by providing selected youth with some holiday shopping money. These programs rely solely on monetary donations, which can be made payable by check to Shop with a Cop or Shop with a Firefighter and may be dropped off at either of the city departments. Recipients of these programs are children who live and attend school in the City of Valdosta and are recommended by a police officer, firefighter, teacher or school principal. Contact VFD Sgt. Chris Staples at (229) 333-1835 or VPD Officer Vernotis Williams at (229) 293-3099 for more information.

Mayor’s Holiday Gift Drive. Mayor John Gayle and members of the Valdosta Fire Department are collecting gifts for 110 patients with developmental disabilities and behavioral health needs who reside at the Parkwood Developmental Center. These gifts will be delivered on Monday, Dec. 22, at 10 a.m., in time for the Christmas holiday. Interested groups or individuals are encouraged to help with the collection of items such as clothing for men and women, hair dryers, small radios and clock radios, matchbox cars and trucks, small musical instruments, and toiletries. Monetary donations are welcomed and will be used to purchase uncollected items on the list. Unwrapped donations and checks made payable to the Valdosta Fire Department will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 19, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., at the Fire Department’s Administrative Office, located at 106 S Oak Street. For more information, contact VFD Lt. Dereck Willis at (229) 333-1835.

VFD Give a Child a Bike Program. Local businesses, organizations or individuals may donate new bicycles that are unable to be used in their current condition due to a missing or malfunctioning part. Valdosta firefighters obtain the missing parts to fix the bicycles, which will then be distributed to children through the local Division of Family and Children Services (DFACS) program in time for Christmas. Call Capt. Rowan at (229) 333-1835 for more information.

The City of Valdosta encourages citizens to focus on the joys of giving during this celebratory time of year. In addition to the programs mentioned above, the holiday season is filled with opportunities to serve each other. Citizens may also consider ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, donating non-perishable food items to a local food pantry, reading or singing at a senior assisted living facility, volunteering at a soup kitchen, donating warm clothes to a clothes closet, lending a helping hand, or simply by spreading some holiday cheer to those who need it most during the holiday season.

Sementha Mathews: Public Information Officer