GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- It's not Thanksgiving yet, but a group of people in Marshall County can't afford to wait until afterward to get ready for Christmas, because they have hundreds of kids to think about. More than 500 kids need sponsors to make sure they have gifts Christmas morning.
Every December in Guntersville, a warehouse transforms into Santa's workshop. But it's not elves that make it happen.
Marshall County Christmas Coalition Director Beth Sprouse is just one of the people who make Christmas wishes come true. "We help provide Christmas assistance for needy children in Marshall County," she explained, talking about the nonprofit organization, "We have a little over 1,600 children total that needed help and now, as of this morning, we have 517 children still left that need a sponsor."
In other words, 517 kids who have Christmas wishes.
Individuals, businesses, civic clubs, and churches can sponsor a child or several children. Sponsors are encouraged to shop for their child or children themselves. If this is not possible the sponsor can send a monetary donation, and a Christmas Coalition volunteer will shop for the gifts. Donations may also be made as a gift in honor or memory of someone. You can download the sponsor form to get started.
The children's ages range from babies to seniors in high school. "We do have their age and their gender, and we also have their clothing sizes, and then reasonable requests that the parents made at the time of sign-up," Sprouse explained.
The kids are usually sponsored out by family. Some families have one child and some have several. The donations are tax deductible. Sponsors will be told where and when to bring back the gifts and the group will take care of the rest.
Each family is thoroughly vetted on multiple levels before they're accepted for help. "You can spend whatever you want to spend, but we ask that you spend at least 100 dollars," Sprouse said.
It's daunting to make hundreds of Christmas wishes come true, but every year, it happens. "People have such wonderful, giving, hearts," Sprouse said.