It was a day of smiles and tears of gratitude as KARE for Kids handed out Christmas presents to underprivileged families last Saturday.
The Christmas Elves, a self-proclaimed group of 50 or more KARE volunteers, were ready with their dollies in hand to load lined-up cars with new toys, clothes and other items, hoping to bring a smile to some of Dawson Countys children on Christmas morning.
It was a real positive atmosphere, said Robin Smith, KARE for Kids board member. People seem to be very appreciative.
This year, KARE assisted more than 346 families with 740 children.
There wasnt a big increase as opposed to last year, said Smith. Last year, KARE helped 338 families with 718 children.
KARE is known for its annual Christmas assistance, but its only part of the entire process, Smith said.
Its a community effort, she said. There are so many businesses, clubs, organizations, schools, churches, and individuals in Dawson County that support us. And the assistance comes not just from Dawson County; other counties also lend a neighborly hand.
One of KAREs more sizable donations came from Mountain Lake Church in Forsyth County. Mountain Lake Church donated more than 2,000 presents for Dawson County children.
Another supporter that can be counted on year after year, Smith said, is the Nordson Corporation in Dawsonville. Last Thursday, employees of Nordson delivered 30 bicycles in all sizes to KARE.
All of the guys assembled the bikes right on-site in the factory, said Ebby Hamby, Nordsons senior lien coordinator. Its sort of a team-building thing for us.
This year, KARE also received a donation of 80 Christmas trees. The trees were given to families who needed a home for their presents.
In addition to providing toys and stocking stuffers, KARE also considers the safety and warmth of the children it helps.
This year, each child received a warm coat, shoes, socks, underclothes, and several shirts and pairs of pants.
We know that it is only natural for kids to be excited about their new toys, but it is just as important to assist with their needs, too Smith said.
After the last straggling cars came in, the Christmas Elves felt accomplished and humbled.
Everything has been great overall, and everyone has been so supportive and generous, Smith said. One of the most touching things about this is we received gifts from families this year who probably needed help themselves.
Im so glad KARE focuses on Dawson County, said Cheri Kimbrell, KARE board member. Its great to give back to the community in which we live.
Ken Newell, KARE Christmas Elf, summed up the entire event with one comment: Its a wonderful experience, and its really enlightening to see what all these people do.