Ambassadors Behind CASA board Chairwoman Debbie Stinson receives toys for children from Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner. The toys will be distributed to children in the care of CASA and Kinship Care’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — Elaine Stevens was worried Christmas might not come this year for her 10-year- old son, Ezekiel Fletcher, and her 7-year-old grandson, Jeremiah Bass, after she injured her back in an automobile accident earlier this year.
The injury caused Stevens to lose her job and it looked like she wouldn’t be able to afford Christmas gifts for the boys.
Then a Santa Claus — in this case Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner — stepped in. Turner collected hundreds of toys this year for Ambassadors Behind CASA, which plans to distribute the gifts to children in the care of CASA and Kinship Care’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
Stevens received a big bag of gifts and toy bikes for her son and grandson from Turner and Ambassadors Behind CASA officials Wednesday.
“I am so thankful for them,” Stevens said. “It really is a blessing. You know how you have that moment where you feel like a miracle has happened? That’s how I feel right now.”
More than 200 needy children will receive gifts this year because of a toy drive Turner held to gather gifts for Ambassadors Behind CASA, said ABC’s board Chairwoman Debbie Stinson. It’s the largest haul Turner has brought in for the group, she added.
“It’s our best one in nine years,” Stinson said. “We’re all ecstatic because it’s gone beyond our expectations this year.”
Turner officially turned the toys over to the group’s leaders Wednesday, but in addition to handing over hundreds of toys, he also presented a ceremonial check for $2,000 in financial donations made by Clayton County residents and businesses. That money will be spent on additional toys for children in the CASA and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren programs.
“It is definitely my pleasure to have the pleasure to collect these toys for the kids,” Turner said.
Turner also singled out two large donations made this year. He said the Safe America Foundation and its president, Len Pagano, donated 25 bicycles while Toyota South President Jerry Gresham donated a dozen large plush dragons. Gresham attended the presentation Wednesday and Turner thanked him personally for his donation.
“He didn’t have to do it, but he wanted to contribute and help,” Turner said.