Teamsters for Tots, an organization made up of current and retired truck drivers, collected money throughout the year via donations, raffles, and their own pockets, in order to bring Christmas cheer to 29 families.”
“We've raised money from our car show, and from the teamsters in our group,” said Ron Hodges, a retired trucker who helped organize the group. “We were able to help out 29 families and about 60 kids this Christmas. We were able to make a lot of families very happy.”
After collecting money throughout the year, the group took its funds to the Kmart on Battlefield Parkway and purchased $7,000 worth of gift cards, so that families in need could use the cards to purchase gifts their children wanted for Christmas.
“It's a little different,” Hodges said. “There are a lot of toy drives and things like that, but we were able to set it up where the parents got to shop for the things they knew their kids wanted, which made it that much better for each family.”
Hodges says the gift cards ranged from $75 to $105 depending on the ages of the children, and that all the families taking part in the program gathered at the Kmart store for a big day of Christmas shopping.
“We all went to the Kmart in Fort Oglethorpe on Saturday, Dec. 15, and gave the parents the cards so that they could pick out whatever was their child's Christmas list,” Hodges said. “It was really a great day.”
In total, $5,890 was spent amongst the 29 families, and it lifted a very heavy burden from parents who were struggling for a way to provide Christmas for their children.
“We've been doing this for a few years now and we're hoping that it continues to get bigger and bigger,” Hodges said. “If somebody out there needs help, we add them to our list. It's as simple as that. There's no overhead with our group, everything is done from volunteers, and every penny goes to helping those needy children and families.”
Hodges said the leftover funds from this past year have already put the crew ahead of the game for next year, and that they hope to spread the Christmas cheer to more local families.
“We've got enough to purchase a vehicle to raffle off, which is a good way to start for next year,” Hodges said. “We're glad this Christmas was a success for those families, and we really want to thank the manager at Kmart, Roger Nicholson. “He bent over backwards to help us and the families this year.”
For more information about the Teamsters for Tots organization, contact Ron Hodges at 423-504-2344.