Holiday Connection in gear

WINDER -- Despite a woeful economy last Christmas, donations poured into Barrow County's primary volunteer holiday assistance program.

Donations jumped nearly 25 percent, officials said, meaning 600 more kids -- totaling 2,200 -- were treated to a toy-filled Christmas than the previous year.

Leaders for the 2009 Holiday Connection campaign hope to keep the momentum going.

Fundraising efforts began this week with the annual "Beans, Bears and Band-Aids" event in Winder, the largest in its four-year history. From here, it's full-speed ahead until Christmas.

The Holiday Connection is a volunteer-based, county-wide clearinghouse that provides assistance to more than 150 families each year. All proceeds -- be it toy donations or financial gifts -- go directly toward gifts.

The initiative provides a one-stop registration for families needing assistance with all that makes the holiday season grand.

In 2007, the Holiday Connection provided Christmas gifts to about 1,600 kids in Barrow. Eligible families who apply are invited to shop the aisles of a makeshift Holiday Connection store in December.

The store is meant to give families a way "to provide gifts for the holidays with dignity," leaders have said.

For toy donations, call 678-227-3741 to arrange a pick-up or drop-off.

For tax-deductible monetary donations: Send a check made payable to Barrow County Family Connection/CIS to: P.O. Box 278, Winder, GA 30680.