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Police provide pick-me-up for Katrina families

By Ed Brock

Four families in Clayton County will have a “Blue Christmas” this year. Police blue, actually.

The Clayton County Police Department on Thursday split a $1,000 grant from Wal-Mart among the four struggling families, meaning they will have an extra $250 each to brighten up their holidays.

“The purpose of these grants is to help these families make their circumstances a little easier,” Clayton County Assistant Police Chief Jeff Turner said during the check presentation in the department's headquarters in Jonesboro.

Tywanna Bailey of Jonesboro, Walt and Sherri Smith of Lake City, Mary Ruth Ogletree of Rex and Barbara Savage of Riverdale were recipients of the grants. Bailey was directly sponsored by the police department, while Ash Street Baptist Church sponsored the Smiths. New Life Community Baptist Church sponsored Ogletree and New Macedonia Baptist Church sponsored Savage.

“It'll just help me out in all sorts of ways,” Ogletree said about her grant. “It'll get me toys for the kids, pay the bills.”

Ogletree said four of her 26 grandchildren live with her.

Savage said she was praying when her minister called and told her she would get the money.

“It's a blessing from God,” Savage said.

She'll use the money to buy presents for her two children and one grandchild. That wouldn't have been easy on just her salary as a school bus driver, Savage said.

“(When) you get paid once a month, it's real hard,” Savage said.

Sherri Smith and her eight children came to accept the check but Walt Smith couldn't make it.

“My husband's been sick and out of work, so we have bills that continue coming in,” Sherri Smith said.

Her money will probably go to cover those bills.

Bailey, meanwhile, is a single mother to three young children.

“I haven't worked since April of this year,” she said. “I lost my job and everything went downhill.”

Bailey lost her car and her apartment and will use her money to buy Christmas presents.

Ron Soles, manager of the Wal-Mart in Lovejoy, said Wal-Mart is always happy to give to police departments.

“They've come to help us a lot and we try to help them,” Soles said.

Grants are available to other civic organizations as well.