In our November and December issues, we ran a listing of ways (Helping Hands) our readers could help local nonprofits and government agencies that work to enrich the lives of those less fortunate in our community. You — our hometown heroes — responded in a powerful way. Read on to see the good news about how you and your neighbors made a difference during the holiday season, as well as ways you can help throughout the year.
WarAngel Farms Rescue and Rehabilitation
From Casey Montana, founder
We received extra donations for blankets, some gently used horse blankets and gained new volunteers/followers! Overall, we definitely have gotten many wonderful volunteers from your magazine throughout the year. In 2023, we could use more animal lovers who want to become monthly sponsors at any level. This helps us care for the current rescues at the farm.
Goshen Valley Foundation
From Caitlin Brunson, marketing and community engagement coordinator
We had incredible support from the community during the holidays. Woodstock City Church sent more than 600 volunteers to help with landscaping, decorating for Christmas and wrapping hundreds of gifts for the boys at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch.
We saw huge support from the community at large helping us to purchase gifts off our Amazon Wish Lists for the 117 foster kids at Goshen during the holidays. The community rallies around our kids at Christmas, and we truly couldn’t do it without its support. We are so grateful to everyone who touched our kids’ lives!
Our 2023 needs are focused around a big need for foster parents in Cherokee and Cobb counties. At Goshen Homes, we license, train and recruit foster parents to work with sibling groups in foster care. That’s because more than 75% of siblings in foster care are separated, and we believe siblings are better together. If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a foster parent or getting involved at Goshen Homes, visit fosterwithgoshen.org to download the fostering guide.
The Children’s Haven
From Daphne Mullen, office manager
The end of the year always is crazy and heartwarming for us. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we had people drop off holiday pajamas and gift cards for the children we serve. We had a tremendous amount of support from individual donors, local families and businesses within the community. People held drives for needed items in our Caregivers’ Closet, helped sort and organize donations, volunteered at our events and called to ask how they could best assist us. We love the generosity our community continues to show, and the support helps us serve the needs of children impacted by abuse and neglect within our county.
We were able to provide holiday gifts for more than 100 children. These were/are youth in foster care and at-risk youth served by our four programs: CASA Cherokee, WellStar Visitation, PCA Cherokee and Chin Up.
In 2023, we are in need of items to stock our Caregivers’ Closet – new sneakers for toddlers through teens, girls’ camisoles, boys’ undershirts, baby wash, etc. Contact us for an up-to-date list. Additionally, gift cards always are welcome.
Some of the sweet donors who dropped off new holiday pajamas had mentioned reading the Helping Hands article. This definitely helped us reach farther afield and spread awareness of our holiday needs.
Cherokee County Homeless Veterans Program
From Jim Lindenmayer, director
We had more than 50 volunteers helping us sort, pack and donate the 5,000 coats we collected on Dec. 16. Our timing could not have been better, as we provided coats to more than six veteran and military organizations and more than 15 area nonprofits — from the Atlanta area, as well as local nonprofits like MUST Ministries — in time to get them out for the cold weather that came at Christmas. We actually ran out of coats. This year, our goal is 7,500.
The Adopt a Vet program again allowed us to provide Christmas necessities to many low-income, homeless and senior homebound veterans around Cherokee County. We had a number of volunteers help with decorating, serving food, cooking and with the food pantry donations.
Without volunteers, we could not do what we have done in our program. In total, our programs reached more than 5,500 people during the holidays. Community support is so important to us because all of the funds we receive are from local people and corporate entities, and the funds stay local.
We always are in need of food items for low-income families and those that we house. For those we house in hotels, we are asking for microwave food, as many hotels no longer have kitchens.
We recently built 125 homeless veteran backpacks with a corporate client, and we are looking to build another 500 during the spring. Through the end of May, the following items are needed: small tarps, ponchos, white socks, foot powder, energy bars, small toiletries, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, paracord, foot warmers, flashlights, batteries, fire blankets, first-aid kits, resealable gallon bags, prepaid phone cards, wet wipes, gift cards, backpacks and small facial tissue packs. (These items were designed by two homeless veterans, one male, one female, with the goal to help a homeless veteran survive on the streets for up to 48 hours.)
The Hope Box
Sarah Koeppen, CEO and founder
During the holidays, we held a Mommy Mart and a baby shower for mothers and infants in need. We had such a need for gift cards, baby diapers, formula, car seats, clothing and more. We are so grateful for all of the volunteers and staff that helped meet the needs of so many. In 2023, continued financial partners, gift cards, baby items and volunteers are needed.
From Doug Whitney, community pastor
In December, we had a Caring Christmas event at First Baptist Woodstock, where families from the community were helped with Christmas gifts for their kids. More than 700 people attended the event, with more than 80 volunteers. Families came for a fun party with snacks, games and giveaways. As the families left, they were given the Christmas gifts donated for their children.
Our church had the pleasure of providing Christmas gifts for 505 kids, representing 176 families. Each child received at least three clothing items and three toys from their wish lists. We had more than 100 families sponsor at least one child. To watch some clips from the event, visit https://vimeo.com/780366693/109b55efec.
Cherokee Secret Santa
From Penny DePuy, Secret Santa coordinator
We sincerely appreciate all the support we receive from the community. Because of our amazing sponsors, we were able to provide an amazing Christmas to the 400-plus children in Cherokee Division of Family & Children Services custody.
In addition to presents, Secret Santa provides school supplies, hygiene kits, age-appropriate stuffed stockings, books, food boxes and more. Anyone interested in sponsoring a child at Christmas, or learning about other support needs throughout the year, can visit www.cherokeesanta.com or call 678-235-5519.
Simple Needs GA
From Brenda Rhodes, founder
We had an increase in the number of volunteers; some were directly because of your publications, so thank you! We were able to help more children this past Christmas than in previous years. Overall, we provided gifts (plus board games, hats, gloves and scarves) for 307 kids in 108 families. Each mom and/or dad also received a Walmart gift card.
And, some of the volunteers who helped at Christmas time have returned to help us! We’re hoping a few will become regulars, including one who read about us in Around Kennesaw.
Now, our greatest need is for gently used mattresses/box springs/beds as well as other essential furniture and kitchen/bed/bath items. We also need items that we give to our birthday children. We update this list about once a week with our most needed items: https://simpleneedsgablog.com/drives.
Volunteers who would like to become regulars by volunteering on Saturdays once or twice a month are needed. And, we need volunteers with pickup trucks, and those who are willing to pick up furniture donations and deliver to our clients.
Cherokee Family Violence Center
From Stephanie Villasenor, outreach coordinator
We are so thankful for the overwhelming response Cherokee Family Violence Center (CFVC) received from Aroundabout magazine readers over the holidays. After the publication of the November and December issues, we received more calls than normal regarding donations for our clients — about half of those callers mentioned they saw the magazine posting. We are thrilled to have received enough bed and bath linens to cover our shelter needs for six months, as well as a large number of laundry and dish detergent pods. If you called, emailed or just dropped off donations for us, we thank you!
In 2023, donations of journals and day planners to use in case management sessions and workshops would benefit our clients. We also need at least 12 new microwaves that we can add to move-in kits for new families. CFVC set up Amazon Wish Lists for some of our most-used products. You can find several lists at https://cfvc.org/donate-now. If your family or organization would like to partner with CFVC in 2023, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Georgia Angel House
From Susan Worsley, executive director and CEO
The influx of volunteers during the holiday season was heartwarming. We had sponsors for each of our girls. All of their needs were met with each item they asked for and a whole lot more.
Our friends and neighbors donated gift cards to have a supply ready when we accept new girls in our home, to purchase clothing and incidentals. One of our neighbors donated a gift card to each of the employees as a thank you for their hard work. It was unexpected and greatly appreciated.
We had sponsors for the children of our girls that come home every year for the Home for the Holidays meal. This year, volunteers donated, catered and served dinner to almost 100 former children, spouses and partners so we could spend time visiting with our former youth.
Volunteers helped decorate the home, inventory gifts and meet the needs of our kids during the most challenging time of the year. In a world where the news is filled with crimes and sad stories, we are reminded Cherokee County is filled with many kind, giving and supportive individuals who work tirelessly to help us meet the needs of our girls. Our investment in others is more than a job; it’s a ministry. We thank God every day for the good in our community.
Our needs going into 2023 include landscaping, siding, remodeling a building for our newly established school, drying in a space for a “she shed,” adding 10 more single occupancy apartments to our campus, and building a reception center at the entrance of our campus. Please let me know if you have time, talent or resources to lend a hand. We love our volunteers.
From Katy Ruth Camp, director of marketing and public relations
Generally, we see about a 20% to 25% increase in the number of volunteers who serve during the holiday season. Not only do people want to give back more during the holidays, but events and programs like the Gobble Jog, our toy shops and holiday meals at the MUST Hope House inspire more people to give back.
Community support makes everything we do possible. Our MUST team could not begin to serve the 62,000 we now are serving annually without volunteers.
We always are working hard to serve more of our neighbors in need. Donations help provide food, housing, jobs, health care and clothing, plus a host of other resources, like toiletries, diapers, cold weather shelter and summer lunches for hungry children.
In 2023, our needs include:
• More food for the MUST Mobile Pantry.
• More volunteers to help serve more clients at every location.
• Volunteers to work in our new MUST Marketplace thrift store, opening in east Cobb this month.
• Support for the future health care clinic being established in MUST’s new facility on Highway 41.
Adopt a Senior 2022 and Cherokee Recreation & Parks Agency
From Erika Neldner, Cherokee County communications director
Adopt a Senior: More than 250 seniors adopted.
Hugs in a Blanket: 984 items donated.
According to Cherokee County Senior Services Resource Coordinator De Gale, there definitely was an uptick in community donations for Adopt a Senior and Hugs in a Blanket.
Going into 2023, Senior Services will continue to ask for help for Stand Up For Seniors to raise money for the Last Stop program, and Cherokee County Parks and Recreation will have the Some Bunny Special program running through April 4.