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Police launch annual Christmas in the Boro

            For most people, the Christmas holidays mean at least a month of hustle and bustle, shopping, parties and wrapping gifts. But for many, the holidays aren't so merry. Financial challenges mean little or no celebration, and for some households, Santa doesn't even stop.

            That's where the volunteers with "Christmas in the 'Boro and Bulloch" step in.

            Efforts by Toys for Tots, Statesboro Police Department employees, Bulloch County Sheriff's Department employees and associates from Wal-Mart have brought joy and cheer to less fortunate families for several years now. But they cannot do it without help, said Tina Greenhaw, Statesboro Police criminal investigations division secretary. Greenhaw is heading the "Christmas in the 'Boro and Bulloch" efforts this year.

            Donation boxes are out in the public, but donations have gotten off to a slow start, she said.

            "We've collected very few toys," she said. "We have the boxes in the stores (including Dollar General. Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Big Lots, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sav-A-Lot and at Sea Island Bank)."

            Donations will be accepted up until the day of delivery - Dec. 21, she said. Clothing for children will also be accepted. For families that prefer to pick up their boxes of Christmas joy, the pick-up date is Dec. 20 at the former Statesboro Police Department location on West Grady Street.

            So far, only 50 families have signed up to receive help, but applications will be accepted up until Dec. 7, Greenhaw said.

            The effort is completely volunteer-driven this year, she said. The United States Marine Corps once handled the toy drive as a drill, but they don't do it anymore. However, the man who headed the Marine involvement, Ret. Chief Warrant Officer Willie Haynes, is still volunteering his time and efforts, she said.

            "We couldn't do it without him," she said, " along with Advanced Patrol Officer Jeff Thompson, who is a Marine reservist; Advanced Patrol Officer Larry Futch, and Bulloch County Sheriff's Sgt. Danny Tremble," who handles the county's portion of the "Christmas in the 'Boro and Bulloch" effort.

            Wal-Mart also donates a great deal, and asociates with the company volunteer to collect, sort and deliver.

            "We just got started with it last week," Tremble said. With donation boxes throughout the county, "We encourage (citizens) to help make somebody's Christmas."

            He recalled how good it feels to watch a child's eyes light up when Santa  Statesboro Police Officer Kelphie Lundy) and Mrs. Santa (Statesboro Police secretary Sherry Ryall) appear, followed by volunteers carrying boxes filled with toys and food for Christmas dinner.

            "Every year has been a good year," he said. "It's good to see ... the expression on the kids' faces. It lets you know you've done a good deed."

            For more information on the "Christmas in the 'Boro and Bulloch" contact Greenhaw at 764-9111 or Tremble at 764-8888.

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