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Here’s how local nonprofit K.A.R.E. for Kids brought Christmas to hundreds of Dawson County children
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The K.A.R.E. for Kids office is located at 66 Highway 53 West in Dawsonville. - photo by Erica Jones

In 2022, local nonprofit K.A.R.E. for Kids brought Christmas joy to hundreds of children in the Dawson County community through its annual Christmas program. 

The story continues below. 

According to K.A.R.E. for Kids Executive Director Tiffany Buchan, this past Christmas K.A.R.E. provided Christmas to 420 children in the school system, as well as several dozen younger children who live in Dawson County but aren’t yet in the school system. 

“Our numbers went up this year; we took 30 more families than we did last year but they were mostly younger children who aren’t in school yet,” Buchan said. 

Each year, families apply to be part of K.A.R.E’s Christmas program, and each child who participates in the program is provided with toys and clothes specifically chosen to their sizes, favorite colors and more. One thing that has been a special joy to parents, Buchan said, is the ability to come to the office and “pre-shop”, or pick out their child’s presents themselves. 

“We like for families to come in and pre-shop; they like going back there and feeling like they’re shopping themselves,” Buchan said. 

While K.A.R.E. operates the Christmas program mainly through the applications, she said that every year the organization ends up accommodating last-minute emergency calls — and this year was no exception.

“We got a call at 10:45 on Christmas Eve; the Dawson County Sheriff’s Department had removed a family, moved them to Rock Creek and noticed that the kids didn’t have any Christmas presents so we came up here and were able to take Christmas to three children down there,” Buchan said. “We have our application dates, we would like for people to come during those times, but we always do emergency cases.” 

Unlike other programs that provide Christmas presents to children in multiple counties, K.A.R.E. is especially unique because its Christmas program stays fully in Dawson County. 

“Stuff’s not going to Atlanta, it’s not leaving the county but it’s here with our children in our county so that the children can have a better outlook on life, a better home life and feel better about themselves in school,” Buchan said. 

This better outlook and higher self-confidence in school is something that Buchan said she personally knows about, as she was picked on back in middle school for not having the newest brand of clothing or other items that the other children had. 

“It has long-term, lasting effects; I remember those days in middle school where I was picked on for not having the nice clothes other kids did, so if we can be here to help in any way to give Christmas and give clothes then it’s all worth it,” Buchan said. 

K.A.R.E. doesn’t receive any government funding, so the Christmas program is funded fully through revenue raised through the organization’s annual Mountain Moonshine Festival and donations given to K.A.R.E. by local individuals and businesses. 

“We have been so blessed the last two years to have such a great festival and sponsors coming out of the woodwork saying ‘can I sponsor a child’ and offering to help with Christmas,” Buchan said. “Because we had so many Christmas donations, we have money left over from festival now so we can do more for Easter.” 

Up next for K.A.R.E. will be its annual community Easter egg hunt, which Buchan said is always a hit with children in the county. As the organization prepares for the Easter event, she said that some of its greatest needs are Easter baskets and volunteers. 

“Families come in who don’t have Easter baskets so donations of Easter baskets would be great,” Buchan said. “And then volunteers — we need volunteers for face painting and volunteers to help man our bouncy houses, help man the popcorn machines and we need help putting the 20,000 eggs out on the fields.” 

This year’s hunt is scheduled for the beginning of April, and anyone wanting to help can schedule a time to drop off donations at the K.A.R.E. office or call the organization for more information about volunteering. 

In addition to accepting donations for Easter, K.A.R.E. will always accept donations of any size or kind of new children’s clothing, toys and other items at any time to prepare for each year’s Christmas program.

“We take any donations throughout the year; we take diapers, we take wipes, we take clothes,” Buchan said. “I encourage anybody that if you’re ever out and you see socks, underwear or blue jeans that have been marked down — it doesn’t matter the size, we use it.” 

For more information about K.A.R.E. and how to help with Easter, Christmas or any of the organization’s community outreach, go to http://www.kareforkids.org/ or call 706-216-5273. 

“If you know why we’re doing it and know that it’s for the kids in our community it’s just rewarding; it’s so rewarding to know that you’re helping out a child in our school,” Buchan said. “There’s no one out there that does what we do.” 

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