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Statham mayor to play Santa
Gift donations to be delivered to Augusta hospital patients

STATHAM - The mayor of Statham wants to fill a pickup truck with gifts, at least.

It's not your average sleigh. But then again, it's not your average cause.

For the third year running, Mayor Robert Bridges is spearheading a time-honored tradition in Georgia known as the Mayors' Christmas Motorcade.

The Motorcade works like this:

Giving-minded people in the Statham community have until Dec. 11 to take donations to Statham City Hall, 327 Jefferson St. The city wants gifts appropriate for adults - everything from board games, toothbrushes and shampoo to stationery and underwear. This is no toy drive.

The donations will go to the several thousand residents living in Georgia's seven regional mental health and retardation hospitals.

All gifts collected in Statham - and the mayor wants at least a truckload, like previous years - will be delivered Dec. 12 to the East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta.

Bridges is passionate about the cause. He'll help to personally deliver the gifts to Augusta, where hospital residents will perform a Christmas program as a token in return.

"It's good to see the people there," Bridges said. "Many of them are really in need. So it's definitely a good cause."

The Motorcade has a rich history of helping. Back in 1958, the Georgia Municipal Association and then-Gov. Ernest Vandiver created the Motorcade program. Forty-nine years later, the gifts aim to cheer up hospital residents who often never leave their clinical surroundings.

The mayor encourages school, church, business and civic groups to help with the Motorcade by calling Statham City Hall at 770-725-5455.

New, unwrapped gifts or cash donations can be dropped off at City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The deadline for donations is Tuesday.