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Local Group Makes Sure Children Have A Christmas


One local organization is working to keep Leon County kids from waking up on Christmas with no presents. The group is helping volunteers play Santa.

That’s volunteer Leanne Laggmann helping pick out some jeans for her sponsored children four year old Shawn and five year old Taraji. The nonprofit “Communities in Schools” selected the boys to go on what it calls a “mini-shopping” spree just in time for the holidays. It’s the second year the organization and its partners have run the event.

“What we do is we ask the parents what sort of items does the child really need. So, we get some of the items that they really need and then we get them a toy as well. And that’s sort of how this sort of snowballed. Last year we did thirty students, this year were doing sixty students,” the group’s Matt McKibbin said.

Communities in Schools is a national organization that’s trying to lower student dropout rates by giving at risk kids with what they need to succeed. The Leon County chapter partners with Walmart and Suntrust Bank to give the most in need children 35 dollar gift cards. Mahan Drive Walmart Store Manager, Chris DeFoor said he wants to help for a simple reason.

“I have children of my own, Walmart is huge in the community, this facility alone has donated 10 thousand dollars right here locally. So, this is something that I thought partnering up with Suntrust and Communities in School we could put together something fantastic for the children,” DeFoor said.

Volunteers from the fire department, sheriff’s office and Suntrust Bank took the 60 children shopping in the store Thursday. McKibbin adds that having law enforcement and rescuers as volunteers is an added bonus.

“I personally think it’s a very important thing for students, particularly elementary students, to engage firemen and police officers in a very positive situation so that if they ever do engage that child later, being an emergency situation, they feel more comfortable with that person,” McKibbin said.

McKibbin hopes to double the number of kids it helps again next year. 

For more news updates follow Ryan Benk @RyanMichaelBenk on twitter.