By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Every Christmas for the past few years, staffers at Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley’s office spend many happy hours separating toys into bags to be distributed to needy children.
This year, the pall of the news of 26 people shot and killed at a Connecticut school fell over the workers. Suddenly, bright pink toys for girls and sports games for boys took on new meaning. Hundreds of miles away, families were grieving the loss of children who would never again celebrate Christmas.
“Doing this every year brings joy to our hearts but we were sitting here Friday when it happened, thinking of those families because you know they’d already had Christmas bought for those kids,” said Mosley. “We were crying, sick to our stomachs. It was just heart-wrenching. I told them to just go home and be with their families.”
The shooting provided another reminder to Mosley, who affectionately refers to all children as “munchkins,” of the fragility and fleetness of life.
“It’s more important to hug your loved ones and tell them you love them,” she said. “They might not come home.”
Still, working on the project gave Mosley and her staffers purpose.
“We never met those kids but there will be 83 kids who will have something under the tree and they will have a smile on their faces,” she said. “You have to thank God for the life He gave you and what He has given you.”
The gifts are made possible largely through the Pre-Trial Intervention program but other items were donated by individuals.
“We had people who were in the program years ago who came back and donated three bikes,” she said. “A courthouse bailiff donated a Lionel train set.”
The goal is that each child get at least two toys and an outfit. Targeted organizations include Se’curus and Rainbow houses, Kinship Care, Divine Faith Ministries, Traveler’s Rest, Hope Shelter, New Macedonia, Lakewin Christian Center and Andrews Chapel.
Mosley and staffers take the donated gift cards and shop until they drop, trying to fill every gift on the wish lists.
“We hit every Walmart in Clayton County and the Target, I know they thought we were crazy,” she said. “We were looking for a chemistry set. We couldn’t find a chemistry set anywhere and finally had to order it online. Another child wanted a hot pink guitar and we had to go to Fayette County to find that. But we got it all done.”
Mosley’s office has spearheaded toy and back-to-school supplies drives since she was elected in 2008. She said she believes in giving back to the community.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” she said. “We’re fortunate in this office, overall, we’ve been blessed, we have a lot. I’m part of this community and part of my goal is to make sure the community is healthy and happy.”