A look at those who gave this year
Churches have provided meals for the hungry, organizations have provided support for those with addictions or who find themselves without homes, children who were in need of clothes have been clothed and members of the community who are usually left out were included.
Brighter Birthdays was started in 2016-2017 as a way to give kids a small bag of gifts on or near their birthday. Founder Cristin Warden said in a May interview with Rome News-Tribune, that the organization has grown significantly from when it was just her and her girls packing a small number of bags to now involving local businesses and schools in the process.
The idea was to provide a small birthday gift to a child who may not receive anything at all. The string-tied bags given to the kids — usually by schools — contain toys, treats and other birthday items. Warden said so far Brighter Birthdays has packed 1,725 bags as of Dec. 28 and is projected to pack over 2,500 by the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
Two organizations based in the old Southeastern Elementary School at 1400 Crane St. have been working on bringing hope to the children in the foster care system. Restoration Rome and the Rome Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth have both developed programs to bring comfort and stability to the children in the Floyd County foster care system.
Restoration Rome was named as a State of Hope Site in 2018 by the State of Georgia, and is currently building a Comprehensive Care Center with supervised visitation rooms, exam rooms, a play area, an intake and initial triage center and more. The organization also has the Hope Chest, a gently-used clothes closet for foster families to come and get what they need for no charge.
A volunteer for RFCCCY saw a need to provide comfort for foster kids in the system. After discovering that children brought into the Department of Family and Children Services only had the clothes on their backs, Mary Yarbrough started the program Blanket Buddy, which provides each new child brought into foster care a handmade blanket. She also started Fig Leaf Friends, which supports the Hope Chest by providing brand new underwear, undershirts, bras, sports bras and diapers to the program.
This year saw two of the biggest hurricanes the Southeastern portion of the United States has ever seen. RomeGaCares, which is operated by the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, collected supplies and traveled to North Carolina and Florida to meet the needs of those affected by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael. After each hurricane the organization set up a collection point at 1929 N. Broad St. and then took the supplies to storm damaged areas along with a team of volunteers.
After Hurricane Michael, Redmond Regional Medical Center sent three advanced life support ambulances, two non-emergency transport vans, crews for all five vehicles and an inpatient therapy team to Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in Panama City Florida. The teams helped move over 130 patients to other hospitals.
A local couple spent their honeymoon helping clear the South Georgia farm where they got married after Hurricane Michael made landfall in October. Nathan and Haley Campbell partnered with Mission Is Possible, taking volunteers and supplies to Arlington where they spent the weekend cleaning up after the hurricane.
First Baptist Church became one of four drop off points in the state for Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia for Hurricane Michael relief. Church member Brandon Johnson loaded the collected supplies and took them to Florida where they were used to support the Bay District Schools.
Students lend a hand
Local students have taken part in community involvement by volunteering their time to help families and fellow students in the area.
Berry College ceramics students recently put their class projects up for sale to raise money for the Ruth and Naomi project. Students made mugs and ornaments in class under the supervision of Professor Dennis Ritter who organized the benefit. Berry Elementary fifth graders also got involved by assisting the college students in glazing the ornaments. All proceeds went to the Ruth and Naomi Project as well as a donation of ceramic art made by the students.
Floyd County Schools began a program this year where they set up a drop off point in one of their high schools to give away 10,000 pounds of food to community members. The food is donated by the Atlanta Food Bank and was brought to the school system by Donna Carver, child nutrition director for FCS. Each month a pop-up food market is set up and food is distributed by student volunteers.
East Central Elementary School saw a need in their community and began working on meeting it with its We Care Service Center. The center acts as a clothes and school supply closet, parent resource center and food distribution station. Students collect food and give it out to fellow classmates to take home with them.
Note that this is not a comprehensive list of every good deed done in Rome and Floyd County; it is simply some highlights of the good that has been done this year.