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'Toys for Tots' volunteers thanked for support

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

An Appreciation ceremony was held on the McDonough Square Friday for those who made Henry County's Christmas "Toys for Tots" campaign a success.

Several local businesses and law-enforcement agencies, who supported the campaign, each collected a certificate of appreciation during the ceremony.

Mark Barr, coordinator of Henry's "Toys for Tots" campaign, worked with members of the McDonough Marine Corps League Detachment 1339 during the event. Barr is also a Realtor with Harry Norman Realtors.

"It's only correct, and the right thing to do, to thank people who went above and beyond what they really had to do," said Barr. "[It was] in appreciation of that, and letting them know they helped 2,000 families through Connecting Henry."

Barr said the work of the volunteers participating in the initiative brightened the holidays for the children receiving the toys.

"It saved Christmas for a lot of kids," he said. "It was a team effort. We look at it as a mission accomplished."

The recipients of the certificates of appreciation were: Volunteer Cheryl Swanson, of McDonough; Kris Cawley, a broker with Harry Norman Realtors; Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer; Henry County Police Officer Jason Duffey, with the Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) Unit; Dr. Stephanie Rytel-Smith, with Eagles Landing Wellness & Chiropractic Center; Oakland Baptist Church Pastor Mike Smith; S2 Hair Studio employees, Leanne Wesley and Heather Hoover; and Sherry Harrison, office manager for The Doctors Office.

Bob Van Dunk, commandant of the McDonough Marine Corps League Detachment 1339, distributed the certificates of appreciation. Other representatives from the detachment, on hand to assist Van Dunk during the ceremony, included Vernon Smith, Tom Oakes, and Russ Vermillion.

"We had a lot of people helping us out with 'Toys for Tots' this year," said Van Dunk.

Participants supporting the effort placed bins by their front doors to collect the toys. Marines and other volunteers emptied the bins when they were full, and took the toys they collected to Connecting Henry, for distribution to needy county families, said Van Dunk.

"They really went out and did above what we really expected. It's hard to get volunteers to do things like this," he added.

The "Toys for Tots" drive in Henry was Nov. 25-Dec. 21. Van Dunk said the reason for the delay in holding the appreciation ceremony was due to the time required to plan the event and arrange for the Marines to attend.

"We had to get the certificates, and have them [the Marines] come in from the Marine Corps League," he said. "That takes time. You're dealing with the military to get things done."