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Christmas in the Boro and Bulloch delivers early joy to local children
122107 TOYS FOR TOTS 1
Santa and Mrs. Claus (aka Detective Kelphie Lundy and Sharry Ryall of the Statesboro Police Department) deliver some Christmas goodies to Araya Kauffman, far left, and Jasmine Lowe, both 5, during Friday's Christmas in the 'Boro and Bulloch event. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

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    Despite a rainy morning, Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance at the old Statesboro Police Department Friday to help deliver holiday cheer through the efforts of the "Christmas in the Boro and Bulloch" project.
    Volunteers hustled and bustled as boxes containing toys and food were loaded onto trailers, to be delivered by a convoy of police officers, volunteers and the Claus couple
    The "Christmas in the Boro and Bulloch" is in its 10th year, and began in 1998 when local law enforcement and others helped 35 less fortunate families, said Statesboro Police Chief Stan York.
    Friday, 235 families who would not have otherwise had a holiday celebration received gifts of kindness from citizens who donated to the project, he said.
    "We do it for the kids," said Tina Greenhaw, Statesboro Police Department employee who organized the event.  Greenhaw was a blur of activity as she sorted and helped load boxes.
    "It;'s for unfortunate kids who have no other way to have Christmas," said Det. Kelphie Lundy, donning a red suit and white beard. Posing as the jolly old elf himself for the past five years has enabled Lundy to see with his own eyes the spirit of Christmas.
    When children greet him as Santa, he becomes emotional when their eyes sparkle with recognition and excitement. He doesn't cry, but "I've come close," he said.
    U. S. Marine Corps CWO3 Willie Haynes has been helping with Toys for Tots since 1986, and the Marine Corps has been doing so for the past 60 years, he said.
    While recent changes have been made in the system regarding the Marines' involvement in the project, Haynes didn't stop what he had been doing for the past 22 years. He was there in uniform Friday helping like he always has.
    "It makes us want to work harder next year," he said, referring to seeing families' reactions to receiving  the packages. "It helps me enjoy my Christmas better."
    The efforts involve not only the Marines  and Statesboro Police, but the Bulloch County Sheriff's Department and Wal-Mart Supercenter as well as other volunteers.
    Bulloch County Sheriff's Lt. Danny Tremble has led the sheriff's department's efforts for the past few years.
    "It feels good to know that you made somebody's Christmas, and to see the expressions in the kid's faces," he said. "But, not only the kids, but the parents who were wondering what to do for Christmas this year."
    Special collections were made for a family burned out earlier this year, losing all to a house fire. They received groceries, clothing and toys.
    And a family who lost a loved one asked everyone to donate an unwrapped toy to the cause instead of flowers, York said.
    "This is the 10th year we've been in a partnership between Wal-Mart, the Marine Corps, and the sheriff's department," he said. "It is humbling, and rewarding in the fact that the community uses us as a conduit to give to enhance Christmas for children who may not have had one and bring a little happiness to them."
    "We've helped 1,800 plus families in the 10 years," Wal-Mart's Steve Champion said. Each family received "three nice toys and two stocking stuffers" for each child.
    As the convoy of volunteers rolled down the street on the way to deliver the goods, blue lights flashing and Santa loaded down with a bag of surprises, it was obvious that everyone involved was filled with the Christmas spirit.
    But there is more to remember, York said.
    ""Even though we are giving toys and gifts to the kids and families, it is truly a time of year to reflect about your family and the true meaning of Christmas," he said. "When we celebrate the Christ Child's birthday."
    Greenhaw issued special thanks to the following: Haynes, Tremble, Bulloch County Sheriff's Lt. Jean West, Capt. Lee Harris and Sgt. Kenny Thompson; Wal-Mart's Steve Champion, Renee Boilott, Briggs and Stratton, Bulloch 911, and Dawn Zuber.
    Also, Brent Jones with the Georgia Southern University Athletic and Continuing Education Departments; Statesboro Police  officers from the day shift; Ranada Royal, Sharry Ryall, Lundy, Rachel Bragg, Franklin Chevrolet, Wal-Mart Distribution, Viracon, SPD Officer Charles Bowen and "all the community members who donated."

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