Bryan County Family Connection Coordinator Wendy Sims doesn’t have kids of her own — until Christmas comes around. Then she’ll have around 500.
Sims, who also heads up the Bryan County Children’s Fund, does the shopping for those kids who are helped by the fund.
And as a Santa of sorts for local kids who without BCCF may not have much of a Christmas, she’s got a couple of deadlines she wants to make known.
The first is Friday — that’s the deadline for families to apply to the BCCF for help.
“It is early, and I know people don’t really start thinking about Christmas until Thanksgiving,” Sims said. “But we need to have those applications so we know what to shop for.”
And while there’s no deadline for donations, which can now be made online at http://bryan.gafcp.org, most of the shopping is done by Dec. 12.
Families who want to adopt a certain family or children for Christmas also need to let Sims know by Dec. 12. Shopping is done around that time and bags are filled to be distributed to families Dec. 17.
So, it’s time to get busy, Sims said, welcoming businesses and individuals who want to get involved to get started raising funds or collecting toys. Putting drop boxes out for folks to drop off toys or clothing is one way to help out, she said.
The program is the county’s largest of its kind and has been around since 2003. Its primary sponsor has been the Good Ol’ Boys, who annually raise tens of thousands of dollars through their Santa Scramble Golf Tournament to go toward gifts.
And the growth of the county, and the economy, has led to an increase in those who benefit from the Children’s Fund. That’s increased Sims’ workload as well.
“It’s worth it to me,” she said. “If we can help one child whose family is down on their luck have Christmas, that’s what it’s all about.”
But the program helps far more children than that.
“We typically help around 300 families each year, usually around 500 children,” said Sims, who credited Audrey Singleton with the Richmond Hill Montessori Preschool for her help in making sure the program works.
Those who get help range from people whose homes have burned down to those who’ve lost a parent or guardian. Those who have been helped include a child who’s single mother was in the Mayo Clinic with pancreatic cancer and the children of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
“It can break your heart,” Sims said.
For more information about the Bryan County Children’s Fund, call Sims at 653-3824. Checks can be made payable to Bryan County Children’s Fund and mailed to P.O. Box 1239 Richmond Hill, GA 31324.
Read more in the Nov. 9 edition of the News.