/script>
By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

For four years now, it has been one of the great privileges of my life to be able to work with Trousdale County’s Christmas For Kids program.

This wonderful cause offers help to the underprivileged in our community and has for over 30 years, since Regina White first started the program. This year, we were able to help around 160 children in Trousdale County.

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Some of the donated toys are shown at last week’s Christmas For Kids distribution.

When Regina decided a few years ago the time had come to step away from the program, the Hartsville Rotary Club and Community Help Center teamed up to operate the program. While there have been a few bumps along the way with the transition and changes within the program, it remains a cause that I am proud to be able to be a small part of.

But there are many more people who all contribute into making this program a success every year. I want to take this opportunity to try to recognize some of those people. I know I may miss a few, but please know your contributions are equally valued.

It’s currently my honor to serve as president of the Hartsville Rotary and I thank those members who have stepped up every year to help operate the program. Wayne Andrews, Jim Falco and Janie Oldham are wonderful to work with and I truly appreciate every one of them.

I also want to thank my fellow Rotary members who came to our aid last Thursday when we were a bit shorthanded in getting things organized. Paul Knudsen, Bryan King and Dwight Jewell each put aside their own plans and spent hours helping us get ready for our distribution.

And speaking of distribution, I want to thank Director of Schools Clint Satterfield and TCHS Principal Teresa Dickerson for the use of the high school auditorium as the site of distribution this year. We have in the past used the Hartsville Church of Christ’s fellowship hall and they have also been a pleasure to work with. Scheduling conflicts made the church unavailable this year (sometimes these things just happen, certainly no one’s fault!) but when we asked Dr. Satterfield about the school, he didn’t hesitate to offer the use of TCHS. Clint even came and worked with us Thursday during distribution and I can’t thank him enough.

One recipient of the Christmas For Kids program – I can’t use a name but this person will know – even stayed to help us after getting their child’s gifts. That meant a lot to all of us!

Christmas For Kids items were bagged and ready for distribution last week.

Getting things coordinated to have Christmas For Kids is always a bit of an adventure. Members of Hartsville’s Church of the Firstborn have assisted with the shopping in recent years and they do a terrific job. These folks almost have the shopping lists down to a science. I mean, we got items for roughly 160 kids in barely two hours!

When the time came to sort the items and get them bagged for the kids, an inmate work crew from the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office helped unload toys, balls and stuffed animals. When these men saw we needed more help, every one of them asked the supervising officer to be allowed to stay and assist us. Sheriff Ray Russell readily agreed and let me tell you, these men WORKED. We absolutely could not have pulled things off without the inmates’ assistance and I was proud to shake each of their hands when we were done.

Trousdale County’s EMS and Rescue Squad members come through every year with the annual Cake Walk and Toy Drive to benefit the program. They are incredibly supportive of Christmas For Kids and have been for years. Their assistance is equally valuable and I thank every one of them for their tireless work.

The folks at the Community Help Center assist in coordinating the financial aspect of the program and I can’t imagine how the program would be possible without them.

And those finances come from you, the people, the churches and the businesses of Trousdale County who so generously support Christmas For Kids every year. Every one of you is so appreciated and I hope you know how thankful we are for that support.

I wish there were more words to express the gratitude in the hearts of everyone affiliated with Christmas For Kids for the support the community has shown throughout the years.

From the bottom of my heart I say thank you – and Merry Christmas to you all!

Chris Gregory is managing editor of The Hartsville Vidette. Reach him at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]