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Turner plays ‘Santa’ for the holidays

Clayton County commission Chairman-elect Jeff Turner talks with representatives of Ambassadors Behind CASA and Positive Press Public Relations about the toys he and the public relations firm collected for the non-profit group.

Clayton County commission Chairman-elect Jeff Turner talks with representatives of Ambassadors Behind CASA and Positive Press Public Relations about the toys he and the public relations firm collected for the non-profit group.

— About 120 Clayton County children will be able to unwrap toys and other presents on Christmas because of fundraising and toy drive efforts led by Clayton County commission Chairman-elect Jeff Turner.

Turner formally presented Ambassadors Behind CASA leaders with about 400 toys and $1,210 in financial donations he collected through his annual toy drive Tuesday. The toys and money were collected at a fundraiser event Turner and Positive Press Public Relations hosted Dec. 13 at Skyboxx Bar and Grill in Morrow. The non-profit group spent the rest of the week distributing the toys to families.

The plethora of toys filled four conference tables and much of the floor in a room at the Glaze and Glaze, PC law firm in Jonesboro, where the toys were separated out for distribution for families. Turner said the scene represented a record haul for his toy drive.

“What made this possible was the citizens of Clayton County hearing a cry for help for our children and coming out and showing their support,” Turner said.

Turner said this is the fifth year he has collected toys and money for Ambassadors Behind CASA, which is a support group for the Clayton County Court-Appointed Special Advocates. CASA is an organization that works with the juvenile court system and represents the interests of children in court proceedings.

“As it is with every year that we do this, it’s always a pleasure working with you all and CASA is definitely a good cause for our children of Clayton County,” said Turner to Ambassadors Behind CASA officials. “We’re going to do bigger and better next year.”

Ambassadors Behind CASA Chairwoman Debbie Stinson said the number of toys donated by Turner has doubled what it was five years ago. She said several businesses, agencies and organizations, including Ash Street Baptist Church, the Clayton County Tax Assessor’s Office, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, AON Hewitt and Heritage Cadillac, joined residents in donating toys.

However, the group’s Vice-Chairwoman Jane Glaze said the need in the community has gone up at the same time because of the economy. Stinson and Glaze said the money donated by Turner will be used to purchase extra toys for the children.

“Every year, at last minute, we have 10 to 12 families that just in need in the county,” Glaze said. “They’re not all CASA families, they are homeless families, people that have been put out of work and they don’t know where to turn and word comes in to us. We try to make sure these children have Christmas and that’s why all of this is just so wonderful. We can just get an age and start pulling toys.”

Glaze then paused for a moment before comparing the effort to Santa Claus’ workshop.

“We’re like the elves,” she said.