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Riverdale Wal-Mart giving grant money

By Greg Gelpi

Santa Claus is making his list and checking it twice, as local businesses do the same.

While holiday shoppers are busy filling into area malls and stores, some of these businesses are spreading holiday cheer by giving back to the community.

Wal-Mart stores in Riverdale and Morrow participated in the company's Christmas grant program by awarding grants to local charities.

Checking through a list of applications, Wal-Mart in Riverdale gave $1,500 to the Riverdale Police Department for Shop with a Cop, and Wal-Mart in Morrow gave $1,500 to the Frank Ski Kids Foundation.

"We wanted someone who worked with the all around community," Angelia Lewis, the training and event coordinator for Wal-Mart in Morrow, said of the foundation. "It makes me feel special because we're giving back to the community."

The Frank Ski Kids Foundation, an organization named after V-103 radio personality Frank Ski of Atlanta, works with other organizations to provide food and clothing to families in need.

Lewis said her store chose the foundation because of its impact throughout Morrow and the surrounding communities.

When she was researching the charity, she found that "this was sending me in every direction," she said.

The Morrow Wal-Mart also gives to Shop with a Cop, the charity that the Riverdale store contributed $1,500 to.

"They look so serious when they're out there, but the kids get to them when they're shopping," Lewis said.

Riverdale police officers entertained needy children while family members did Christmas shopping with the donated money.

In 2002, the Morrow Wal-Mart gave about $50,000 and Riverdale's store gave about $35,000 to local charities.

Wal-Mart gives grants throughout the year to a number of charities, schools and other organizations.

The $6.6 million in holiday grants is part of Wal-Mart's $13 million they give away from November to January annually.

Also joining into the holiday spirit of giving back, Southlake Mall held "An Evening of Giving" earlier this month. Nonprofit organizations raised money by selling tickets inside the mall. Ticket holders received discounts, food, entertainment, a shopping bag, shuttle service and a picture with Santa Claus.

About 35 schools, churches and other nonprofit organizations participated, selling more than 2,500 tickets, a mall spokesman said. Southlake Mall also gives back to the community through a cash back for schools program and a mall walking program in conjunction with Southern Regional Medical Center.