Debbie Dixon said she is amazed by the local response for this year’s Christmas for Kids program.
With 768 children signed up for the program that provides Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents, Dixon knew this would be a challenging year.
With 11 days to go before Dec. 25, the Shoals is close to meeting the challenge.
Only 36 children remain without a sponsor, Dixon said.
“I’m so proud of this area,” she said. “We’re not there yet. We still are looking for sponsors, and if anyone is looking for something that will really get you in the Christmas spirit, this is it.”
Dixon stopped by the University of North Alabama’s Christian Student Center earlier this week to thank students for helping with the program. It has become an annual tradition for the center, which is sponsoring 27 children this year.
“These kids are awesome,” she said. “They’ve been some of our long-term sponsors and they are good shoppers.”
Motorcycle riders who are interested in helping the program can join a toy ride Saturday.
The event starts at noon at The Dirty South MC Clubhouse, 3116A Jackson Highway in Sheffield and ends at Go-Getters MC/SC Clubhouse, 610B S. Washington St., in Tuscumbia.
Riders are asked to donate a toy with a minimum value of $10. The toys go toward Christmas for Kids.
Entrants start lining up at 11 a.m. at The Dirty South clubhouse.
The event is sponsored by local NWA 256 Riders, The Dirty South and Go-Getters clubs.
Anyone interested in buying gifts for the children, or contributing monetarily, can call Dixon at 256-443-1297. If you want to provide money, an account is set up at all First Metro Bank branches.
The program allows incarcerated parents to help make a list of Christmas gifts for their children.
That way, the parents are part of the program. Volunteers either buy and wrap the items or provide money.
Dixon founded Christmas for Kids 23 years ago after she had to spend the holiday without her three daughters because she was incarcerated for six months at Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women for writing bad checks.
Since then, the program has spread into other states, where more than 4,200 children are clients in Alabama alone this year, she said.
Nationally, more than 21,000 children are helped, Dixon said.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.