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Shelby's holiday charities still feeling spirit

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Angel Tree is serving about 930 children

By Ryan Conley

Even in the midst of tough economic times, the giving spirit of Shelby Countians shines this holiday season through its support of local charities.

So says leaders of several charitable efforts, including Bonnie Roberts, volunteer chairwoman of the local Salvation Army service unit.

“Shelby County has some very generous people,” said Roberts of this year’s donations, some of which are expected to help close to 1,000 children. “I have been doing this for seven years now, and I cannot say enough when it comes to how people respond to the Salvation Army.”

Roberts earlier this week said 930 “angels” from the annual Angel Tree program had been accounted for, and, as of this writing, only about a dozen remained. A Dec. 3 toy drive coordinated by the Shelby County High School ROTC program at Walmart netted 797 toys, she said.

The toys, which are designated for assigned families along with other donations, are stored in the basement of Shelbyville City Hall.

“It is amazing to see all of the toys down here,” said Roberts, noting the inventory included three bicycles. “It is loaded. It is just amazing.”

Roberts said that annual kettle collections are also doing well at Walmart and Kroger. She didn’t have a full accounting of how much money had been raised to date, but the first weekend after Thanksgiving yielded about $3,000.

Local law enforcement authorities are also involved in holiday charity programs. Detective Eric Hettinger of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department said that about $3,500 had been raised so far this season for the annual “Shop with a Cop” initiative.

“We always try and do more that we did the last year,” said Hettinger. “This year, we are going to help 30 kids.”

“Shop with a Cop” candidates are selected with the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and with the help of the Angel Tree program.

“The economy hasn’t affected us too much,” Hettinger said. “People realize there are other people worse off than them.”

The Kentucky State Police is also sponsoring its second “Cram the Cruiser” campaign, which seeks food donations. Non-perishable items can be dropped off at one of 16 KSP posts, including Post 12 at 1250 Louisville Road in Frankfort. In addition to Shelby County, Post 12 covers Anderson, Fayette, Franklin, Scott, Spencer and Woodford counties.

Troopers last year collected 21,586 pounds of food throughout the state and distributed it to local shelters, churches or other organizations.

“Our guys know the food pantries, soup kitchens, and the areas that are needy this time of year,” said Lt. David Jude, commander of KSP media relations based in Frankfort. “Last year was our first year, and some of the posts didn’t do as well as others, so there is a real competition going on this year.”

In addition to multiple area churches, Roberts said several companies are involved with Salvation Army/Angel Tree efforts. Included in the mix are Process Machinery and Thoroughbred Contractors, as well as salons Sister Act and Classic Cuts, among others.

“Some businesses are taking whole [Angel] trees,” said Roberts, who works at Commonwealth Bank & Trust, which is also participating with the Salvation Army effort. “And some churches are taking charge of whole families. It’s just wonderful.”

Roberts said the Salvation Army is still seeking volunteers to ring bells at the kettles. Interested parties should contact Jim Swigert at 647-0334.