Thursday, January 1, 2009
Clydesdale spreads Christmas cheer
By BARRY BURLESON
The Clydesdale Christmas Store is all about the giving.
This year more than 400 children got gifts from Santa and his elves during the annual event at the National Guard Armory in Holly Springs. The Clydesdale Christmas Store also made the holidays brighter for 15 school children in Byhalia, 25 to 30 families in need and 30-plus nursing home residents. And a new Clydesdale Christmas Store in the Harmontown area, in its second year, delivered gifts to 62 children.
About 150 volunteers assist with the total team effort, which includes helping as elves on the Saturday before Christmas at the National Guard Armory and assisting with a variety of fund-raisers during the year.
“Different people do different things at different times,” said organizer Ronnie Luther. “And nobody gets a penny. There are no salaried employees, and there never will be.
“It all goes to the children or the needy people. That’s our pay – seeing the kids and the people we help. We get more out of it than they do.
“That’s how the man upstairs is keeping score – how many people you help along the way.”
Luther and his wife Brenda started the Clydesdale Christmas Store out of their house in 1993 and served 15 children that first year. It has grown each year since.
Names of area children are obtained from the Department of Human Services, area schools and churches.
They come to the Clydesdale Christmas Store from Marshall, Benton, Union, DeSoto, Lafayette and Tate counties and the edge of Tennessee, but 75 percent are from Marshall, Luther said.
“From 1 year old to 100 years old, if they need help, that’s what’s it’s about,” he said.
A&B Distributing in Olive Branch, where Luther is employed, is the main sponsor of the Clydesdale Christmas Store. The company sponsors a golf tournament annually at Cherokee Valley in Olive Branch. Fund-raisers during the year also include the Byhalia Clydesdale Festival in cooperation with the Byhalia Lions Club, an auction in Holly Springs at the VFW, and an auction in Byhalia in cooperation with the Lions Club.
“Plus, we get a ton of donations from companies and individuals,” Luther said.
“That’s what it takes – everybody’s help. One or two people can’t pull off something of this magnitude.”
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