By Valerie Baldowski
A Friend's House's annual Christmas Gala generated much-needed money, officials said.
The event, a fund-raiser held at the Hazlehurst House in McDonough, helped the non-profit organization keep its doors open, according to Nan Jenkins, director of development for A Friend's House.
"It raises awareness in the community, of the needs that A Friend's House has, not only at the holidays, but all year through," said Jenkins. She said A Friend's House relies heavily on community support to continue its operations.
Christmas Gala attendees received ornaments made by the children living at the facility, with the help of Raspberry Rain in Locust Grove, she said.
"At this time, we have not finalized the report from the gala, because we always get money in through the end of the year," said Jenkins.
In addition to the December fund-raiser, more help came from Stockbridge Community Church. The church donated two, flat screen TV sets earlier this month. Volunteers expect the TVs to be installed on Christmas Day, according to Stacy Steen, the church's evangelism director.
Some church members also "adopted" the children at A Friend's House by treating them to a meal at Chili's Restaurant, and a Target shopping spree at Henry Town Center, said Steen.
The gesture was a way for the church to reach out to the children, she continued. "We spent an entire night bonding with them, and showing them the love of Christ, with no strings attached," added Steen.
The facility receives state funding to cover the costs of room and board for each child, and the county government includes the home in its annual budget, according to Jenkins.
"We, at A Friend's House, are tasked with raising approximately 40 percent of our budget each year, from fund-raisers, grants, foundations, and individual and business donations," she added.
"We are also fortunate that the community provides us many in-kind donations, such as toiletries, school supplies, gift cards and, of course, the things we get at Christmas for the children."