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Statesboro community helps fill Christmas needs
Volunteers give holiday help to 105 kids, 35 families
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Cheryl Roddenberry loads up her trunk with presents to take to needy families around the area. The gifts were provided by local volunteers and were distributed Sunday. - photo by KATIE BULMER/special

What began as one man's effort to make a difference has grown into an annual tradition that brings Christmas joy to kids facing a sparse holiday.

About five years ago, Statesboro resident Jim Taylor and his wife began helping families in need for Christmas, buying gifts and necessities for "inner city kids" he knew from his affiliation with the local education system. As the years passed, however, the needs grew - and so did local response.

This year, the efforts of volunteers from numerous local churches, the Downtown Statesboro Rotary Club, Wal-Mart, Fostering Bulloch and more resulted in 105 kids and 35 families receiving help for the holidays, Taylor said.

While the group used Fostering Bulloch's building as a distribution point, the endeavor "isn't just a Fostering Bulloch thing," said Chris Yaughn, Fostering Bulloch director.

The Statesboro Service League helps local foster families with Christmas, but when other needs arose, Yaughn and Taylor collaborated, and the project grew. Others, including area churches and businesses, joined in, and this year, there were more than 20 volunteers at any one time helping organize, wrap and deliver toys.

"I've been blessed with more than I need, so it's nice to give back," said volunteer Katie Bulmer. "Seeing the kids' faces light up" as gifts are delivered "is the reason I do this."

"It's kind of a big task," Yaughn said, adding that Taylor personally knows most of the families helped. "A lot of different people from several churches had a role in this."

Taylor said the response from the community is humbling.

"It has just been a wonderful thing," he said. "Every year, we touch a few more people" who are in need or who wish to help others.

"It's not the kids' faults they are in the situations they are in," he said.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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