Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Margaret Spencer, Jessika Gilmore, Tasha Mosley, Damarius Lewis and Kiara Taylor pose with enough toys to make a merry Christmas for about 100 needy Clayton County children.
Dolls, bikes, board games, and other toys, have been delivered to Clayton County agencies and churches to make Christmas merrier for about 100 children.
The bounty was collected for the second year in a row by the office of Clayton Solicitor General Tasha Mosley.
"I'd love to be able to say there are fewer families this year, but there is a steady increase," she said.
The bulk of the donations came from probationers working off community service hours through the Pre-Trial Intervention program. However, unexpected cash from strangers helped make the toys go farther.
"We were shopping at Target and some ladies heard us talking about needing this or that," said Mosley. "They asked us what we were doing, and we told them we were buying for needy kids. One lady, an attorney in Morrow, gave us a $100 Target card. Another lady in scrubs pulled out $50 and gave it to us."
The unexpected windfall allowed the office to serve about 20 more kids than planned.
"You know, you hear all the time about how Clayton County is, how bad it is," said Mosley. "And these are people in the community, just giving back. It literally made us cry, right there in the store."
Meg Cauchy, Mosley's office manager, accompanied her on one of those trips. "You truly do see the best in people," she said. "For someone to overhear us talking and just hand over $100, it's just awesome."
A third customer, slightly irritated at having to wait behind the women checking out with multiple gift cards and shopping carts, also lent a hand.
"This man was behind us in line, and I was using card after card toward the total," said Mosley. "It got down to the final $6 and I was trying to find another card when he stepped forward and said he'd pay it. I think he just wanted to get us out of there, but that's OK. Every little bit helped us fill in the gaps as best as we could. We know 100 kids will have a good Christmas this year."
Two probationers from last year's toy drive also participated, even though they didn't have to. "We had two males who bought four bikes on their own," said Mosley. "They were in the PTI program last year, but had come off probation. They thought it was a good thing last year, and wanted to contribute again."
Among the agencies and churches to benefit from the donations are: Kinship Care, Securus House, Rainbow House, New Macedonia, Divine Faith Ministries, and Travelers Rest.
"We tried to pick churches throughout the community," said Mosley. "To get a good cross-section of the county."
Mosley supports the program simply because it's the right thing to do.
"If you give back and provide the basics for families, hopefully, prayerfully, it lightens the load," she said. "And, maybe, we won't see them in court."