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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2006
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From left, Susan Purvis, Molly Neill and Caki Bolding's streetside hot chocolate stand raised about $30 for Committee on Church Cooperation.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
From left, Susan Purvis, Molly Neill and Caki Bolding's streetside hot chocolate stand raised about $30 for Committee on Church Cooperation.

Making
spirits bright

Youths' efforts make Christmas
merry for less fortunate

By Danielle Komis
dkomis@decaturdaily.com 340-2447

Sixth-grader Caki Bolding stood in the cold for two hours with two friends, waving down passersby in hopes of selling them a cup of hot chocolate for 75 cents.

Thomas Russell, left, and David Good of Hartselle High School Key Club prepared Holiday Hope boxes for needy families to be distributed by Volunteer Center of Morgan County.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Thomas Russell, left, and David Good of Hartselle High School Key Club prepared Holiday Hope boxes for needy families to be distributed by Volunteer Center of Morgan County.
The scene was charming — Caki and friends Molly Neill and Susan Purvis in polar fleece zip-ups smiling and waving, a chalkboard sign hung on a utility pole and cans of whipped cream stacked behind them on a table at an Old Decatur street corner.

But more charming were their intentions — to raise money for the Committee on Church Cooperation in Decatur so other young people could have a Christmas.

While many adults give their time, effort and energy to help the less fortunate during the holidays, the younger generation like Bolding also is on the front lines. She and her friends were raising money to help teens and children who may not have a Christmas if it weren't for their generosity and time.

Caki's mother Carol Bolding, CCC director, was out of town when her daughter and friends set up the hot chocolate stand. She didn't find out about the $30 they raised until she got home.

"I was quite surprised," she said. " And then again, quite impressed."

The girls made Mexican hot chocolate, which is "kind of cinnamony," Caki said.

"Lots of people stopped," she said. "We got to help the little kids get Christmas presents."

Volunteering is beneficial because it exposes you to new things, said Jordan Garrison of Hartselle High School Key Club. One of them was learning how to wrap gifts.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Volunteering is beneficial because it exposes you to new things, said Jordan Garrison of Hartselle High School Key Club. One of them was learning how to wrap gifts.
Bolding said this was the first time her daughter launched a charity fund-raiser, and was impressed by her and her friends' motivation. The money was given to CCC.

"They know what it means to give back and I just think that's really neat," she said. "It's good for the girls to know there aren't as many people out there as lucky as they are."

Other local young people also have discovered the spirit of the holidays by reaching out and helping people.

Adam Joseph, a junior at Austin High School, dressed as Santa Claus this year for Austinville Church of Christ's Christmas party for the mentally handicapped. Usually, his pastor plays the part, but he is overseas on a mission trip, Joseph explained.

"They (guests) came and sat by me and told me what they wanted for Christmas," he said. Then, church members distributed presents for everyone.

"I've never seen anybody so excited," he said, smiling at the memory. "You always feel good after you do something for someone else."

Joseph also is a member of Austin Ambassadors, which coordinates the school's Can-a-thon effort each year. He, along with other students, helped pack, load and unload thousands of cans at Colonial Mall to be donated to local needy families.

"We were pretty tired at the end of the day," he said.

Hartselle High School students Jordan Garrison and Mary Virginia Reeves also worked with the Key Club on the Can-a-thon effort as well as Holiday Hope Chests and angel tree donations.

It's fun to volunteer with friends, especially during the holidays, they said.

"I think everybody's kind of in the mood to help," Reeves said. For those who aren't in the Christmas spirit there, there's also plenty of outside motivation.

"A lot of teachers give extra credit for (bringing in) the cans," Reeves said. Parties, homework passes and other incentives often are offered to students in exchange for items for needy families.

Volunteering is beneficial because it exposes you to new things, Garrison said.

For example, his giftwrapping skills left much to be desired until Key Club sponsor Leah Blackwood taught him when he wrapped presents for needy families. He marveled at the adhesive that he never realized was on the back of bows, and that everything at Dollar Tree, where they shopped for items, really does cost $1.

"We've introduced him to a whole new world," Blackwood joked.

And often adults are the ones to open up the younger generation to a whole new world.

Laurie Davis of Decatur recently took her children shopping for needy families this Christmas to help raise their awareness of those who aren't as fortunate. Each year, they seem to get into it more and more, she said.

"It's becoming more successful as they get older," she said. "When they were really young, they would start grabbing all the things they wanted."

Seventh-grader Mary Charles Davis and fifth-grader Sam Davis of Decatur both said they liked shopping for needy families this holiday season. The selected clothing and toys they thought the children in the families would like. Shopping for someone else was neat, Mary Charles said.

"It's the true meaning of Christmas and you kind of learn that and it's kind of fun," she said.

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