The Gordon County Chamber of Commerce Young Professional Committee held its fifth annual packing party at the Voluntary Action Center on Monday as it geared up for the distribution of one hundred gift boxes to senior citizens in early December. The holiday giving project was adopted into the group’s program of work in 2014 and has become a signature event for the committee.
“Christmas is the giving season, so it invariably inspires charitable activities. The Young Professionals Committee recognized that many holiday programs focused on children and were inspired to do something to help senior citizens, a sector of our community often overlooked despite their considerable needs,” said Kathy Johnson, president and CEO of the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce. “Many of these people spend a great time alone, so having the committee members visit with them as they deliver the items adds an additional layer of meaning to the program. The Chamber is very proud of our Young Professionals and all the work they do throughout the year, but this event is particularly special.”
Stacy Long, executive director of the Voluntary Action Center, challenged the group to adopt the project when she made a presentation to the committee in November 2014. The committee embraced the idea and the first distribution took place in December 2015. Each year, the committee starts working on the project early. They begin by creating a list of approximately 12-15 items they feel most seniors would either need or enjoy. These items include socks, lap blankets, puzzle books, personal care items and toiletries, candies, personal stationary items, calendars, candles, household items, food and coffee.
The committee members make personal pledges to donate or solicit one hundred each of these items, gathering collections sufficient to fill a hundred different bags. Once those items are collected, Calhoun First United Methodist Church adds boxes of food purchased through Action Ministries. For the last several years, Calhoun Presbyterian Church has donated $10 gift cards from Wholesale Foods, but this year North Georgia E.M.C. offered VAC a grant through its Operation Roundup Program that allowed a $5 increase.
“Our seniors love having the opportunity to chat with the volunteers delivering their boxes. They also love their gifts. The first year they received them, we received more phone calls thanking us than we ever had before for other projects. Sometimes, it’s the small things that show someone they’re appreciated. The benefit to the seniors is obvious, but the individuals who deliver always share stories from their experiences, as well. It’s a great opportunity for everyone involved,” Long said.
The Young Professional Committee is led by Chairman Will Harrison with Mannington Commercial and Vice-Chair Adrian Lyles, owner of Lyles Wealth Management. Members include Wesley Alexander, Starr-Mathews Insurance; Deidra Brumlow, First Bank of Calhoun; Michael Burgess, Starr-Mathews Insurance; Kelcey Caulder, Calhoun Times; Gabrielle Defalco-Holley, Automation Personnel Services; Katie Ellison, Qualified Staffing; Jayla Ensley, North Georgia National Bank; Juliebeth Fisher, Shaw Industries; Jaime Garrett, Calhoun City Schools; Jake Holley, City of Calhoun; Brooke Johnson, Gordon County Schools; Jeremy Kirby, Meadowdale Baptist Church; Bekah Kirby, United Way of Gordon County; Jennifer Latour, United Way of Gordon County; Larken Logan, Floyd Medical Center; Madelyn Patterson, First Bank of Calhoun; Suzanne Roberts, City of Calhoun; and Vilja Ruiz, Synovus.