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Toys for Tots benefit trail ride December 15
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    A trail ride to benefit the local effort to help less fortunate families have a merry Christmas will cost riders only an unwrapped toy - unless they would like to donate more.
    The trail ride, held Dec. 15 at Clark Farms near Portal, will help collect toys for the annual "Christmas in the Boro and Bulloch" campaign, which provides a holiday meal and Christmas gifts to families in the community who would otherwise be unable to have gifts for children and a special meal.
    "We like to host trail rides throughout the year for various causes," said Holli Deal Bragg, who along with her husband Stan Bragg are hosting the event. "We host a Saddle Up for St. Jude ride every spring and it is always lots of fun and generates funds for the charity, so we thought a  'toy ride" would both help with the toy collection and also give riders a chance to have some holiday fun."
    Riders are asked to bring a covered dish and holiday treat to share with others after the ride, she said.
    Toy collections for the "Christmas in the Boro and Bulloch" Toys for Tots campaign are slow this year, said Tina Greenhaw, Statesboro Police Criminal Investigations secretary who is heading up the effort, along with Bulloch County Sheriff's Sgt. Danny Tremble and several other volunteers, including a number of associates from Statesboro's Wal-Mart.
    The effort is expected to provide holiday cheer for 250 families in the area. Donations are needed for toys, and donations of clothing will also be accepted, she said.
    Wal-Mart helps provide the food for the meals as well as some toys for children, she said.
    "It's sad to think that some children won't have anything for Christmas," Bragg said. A news reporter for the Statesboro Herald, she has covered the event for several years.
    "When you see the kids' eyes light up when they see Santa, and it is apparent they really believe he's real, you get all choked up," she said. "And when the parents tear up with gratitude as volunteers carry boxes into their homes, if you don't get emotional, you're just not human."
    Many of the families receiving the donations live well below the poverty level, she said.
    "Seeing these families filled with joy because of a few boxes that mean their kids will have Christmas like their friends and classmates, and that they will have a special meal, really fills you with the Christmas spirit," she said.
    The ride begins at 11 a.m., and the meal and fellowship will take place afterward. Due to it being deer season, the ride won't include as many woods trails as other rides held at the same location, but the ride will be enjoyable and is for a good cause, she said.
    Citizens who do not ride horses are welcome to join for the gathering afterward and bring one or more unwrapped toys for donating, she said. And other citizens who would like to donate are encouraged to drop off unwrapped toys at the Statesboro Police Department, Bulloch County Sheriff's Department, Kmart, Wal-Mart, Family Dollar, Sav-A-Lot, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Sea Island Bank and other Toys for Tots boxes located in several downtown businesses.
    To reach Clark Farm, owned by Al and Debbie Clark, take U.S. 80 from Portal about three miles. After crossing a bridge, take the second dirt road to the left (Clark Farm Road) and travel about a mile. Trailers can park on the right at the farm shed.
    From Hwy. 121 in Emanuel County, turn onto U.S. 80 towards Portal and travel about a mile and a half, turning right onto Clark Farm Road.
    Horses are required by state law to have a negative Coggins test. Water for horses will be available - bring your own bucket.
    For more information contact Bragg at (912) 489-9414 or 865-2352.
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