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Homelessness prevention agency spreads cheer

Photo by Jeylin White
Clayton Family Care staff members and volunteers, Jana Szeto (from left) Jamiee Harris-Taylor, Carol Floyd, and Sydni Ray, hold a few of the toys that will be given away, this Saturday, at the agency’s holiday party for families served through its programs.

Photo by Jeylin White Clayton Family Care staff members and volunteers, Jana Szeto (from left) Jamiee Harris-Taylor, Carol Floyd, and Sydni Ray, hold a few of the toys that will be given away, this Saturday, at the agency’s holiday party for families served through its programs.

For the first time in its 20-year history, Clayton Family Care has decided to do something a little different for the families the homelessness-prevention agency usually assists.

To lessen the burden for those families during the holiday season, said Jana Szeto, the executive director, the Forest Park organization normally has a toy drive. This year, however, the group’s board members and staff members decided to host a Christmas party, along with the toy drive.

The holidays are tough for families who come in seeking assistance, Szeto said. Some residents are having to face the harsh reality of either choosing to pay their rent and electric bills, or buy toys for their children this Christmas, she said.

The Christmas party will be held Saturday, Dec. 17, from noon, to 2 p.m., at Clayton Family Care, which is located at 1000 Main St., Forest Park. It will feature an assortment of foods, and arts and crafts, Szeto said –– and “Mama and Papa Claus” will be on hand to give out gifts to children.

“This will be a time for us to bring our families together and recognize the holiday season,” she added.

Carol Floyd, a case manager for Clayton Family Care, and volunteers, Sydni Ray and Jaimee Harris-Taylor, were instrumental in reaching out to the community and local businesses, to help make the event a success, according to Szeto.

They were able to get several businesses in Clayton County to partner with the organization, and more than 150 toys were donated.

Floyd said the Toys for Tots campaign provided toys, Wilsons Pharmacy in Forest Park donated money to help the effort, Publix (grocery store) donated a $50 gift card to help buy food for the event, while Overlook Townhome Apartments, in College Park, Parkside Crossing Apartments, in Forest Park, and Forest Park Package Store, also donated money for toys.

According to Floyd, 20 families, who are served through Clayton Family Care programs, are expected to be in attendance for the event, Saturday, and at least 50 children will receive gifts for the holidays.

“We hope this will be an opportunity for our families to do a little bit more than just receive gifts,” said Szeto.