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Local nonprofits make holiday season brighter for residents
by Nneka Okona
January 03, 2013 01:16 PM | 1624 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye <br>
Dionne Christopher, President of the Old National Merchants Association, with some of the toys collected for the Lift Community Development Center.
Staff / Katherine Frye
Dionne Christopher, President of the Old National Merchants Association, with some of the toys collected for the Lift Community Development Center.
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As 2013 begins, the past few weeks of holiday cheer is still on the minds of many, especially for people like Dionne Christopher, president of the Old National Merchant’s Association.

Christopher helped to orchestrate and execute a toy drive that benefitted many residents in the Old National and South Fulton area at large.

“A few years ago, a couple of our members wanted to do a toy drive for Toys for Tots,” said Christopher. “Last year, however, we started to do a toy drive for families on Old National and the Old National area with different drop off locations.”

This year, specifically, the organization Christopher heads up worked in conjunction with the Lift Community Development Center, whose toys for a toy drive they were generating were stolen mid-December.

“All of our efforts went to make sure that all of our kids got toys,” said Christopher. “We wanted families to have a nice Christmas.”

Overall, the toy drive proved to be a great success.

More than 300 kids were given toys, collected from the six drop-off locations from Nov. 9 until Dec. 14.

Christopher said the effort was completely collaborative, a shared effort between the organization’s members and business partners.

“Everyone plays an important part to make this what it is,” she said. “We’re able to bring a variety of people together that may not necessarily meet each other in a day-to-day basis to help support and bridge the gap.”

Additionally, the Old National Merchant’s Association collaborated with the city of College Park and Ward III councilman Tracy Wyatt’s toy drive held on Dec. 20 at the Godby Recreation Center.

Eslene Richmond-Shockley, president and CEO of Caring for Others, a homelessness prevention nonprofit headquartered in the South Fulton area had a different experience for the holiday season.

Her nonprofit, which sponsors an annual community holiday giving program that distributes food, clothing, food and household goods, experienced a difficult time getting donations from the community.

“It was rough,” she said. “We were able to help 350 people in the end.”

Richmond-Shockley supposed the difficulty has a lot to do with two main things: difficult economic times and oversaturation of nonprofits in the area.

“We tried but times were so hard because they are so many different nonprofits in the area,” she said. “We did the best we could with what we had.”

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