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Spreading cheer: A guide to giving this holiday season in Forsyth County
Forsyth County Administration tree
From left, Brian Turner and Avery Samples hang ornaments recently on a tree at the Forsyth County Administration Building. Below, Joe Garmon chooses an ornament. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

As Christmas trees twinkle in homes, the 2017 holiday season — filled with food, warmth and happiness — is on the minds and in the hearts of many around the world.

While many in Forsyth County are lucky enough to spend the holidays with someone they love and a number of residents have the luxury to exchange presents with friends and family, not everyone is quite so fortunate.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 5.7 percent of the county’s population is living in poverty. Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization, found in 2015 that 11,840 Forsyth County residents were food insecure.

Food insecurity refers to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.

And, according to a study conducted annually by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 7 percent of children in Forsyth are living in poverty.

To make the holiday season brighter for residents, young and old, Forsyth County offers donation centers and programs to help with gift-giving, meal-giving and joy-spreading.

“With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it always amazes me just how giving our community is throughout this special time of the year,” said Forsyth County Board of Commissioners Chairman Todd Levent. “Our citizens are extremely kind and generous, and they are without question what make Forsyth County such a wonderful place to call home. Thank you to everyone who has given so selflessly to help others within our community.”


Fire department holds 15th annual toy drive

“Each year, fire department personnel look forward to this opportunity to bring a smile to children, and it is great to see the community get behind the project every holiday season as well,” said Fire Chief Danny Bowman. “Because of the community’s support, the Aerial’s House’s toy collection has brought countless children a special holiday season over the years.”

What: Now through Dec. 15, new, unwrapped toys for children — newborn to 18 years old — can be dropped off at any Forsyth County fire station, the department’s headquarters or any of the county’s four library branches. The toys can also be dropped off under the Christmas tree in the lobby of the Forsyth County administration building.

Where:

• Fire Department Headquarters, 3520 Settingdown Road; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday

• Forsyth County Public Library, various branches have different hours, open on weekends

• Forsyth County administration building, 110 East Main St.; 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

 Monday-Friday.

Contact: Call Firefighter Jeff Lyons at (678) 513-5899 or The Place of Forsyth County at (770) 887-1098.



Home-Delivered Meals

“The Meals on Wheels program does not only provide a warm and healthy meal — a meal delivery offers seniors valuable social interaction and a safety check,” said Ruthie Brew, director of senior services. “Forsyth County Senior Services is proud of the support this program receives – not only during the holidays, but year-round. These meal deliveries truly make a difference for a senior in need.”

What: FCSS and Meals on Wheels are teaming up yet again for the 2017 Home-Delivered Meals Holiday Gift Certificate Program, which benefits home-bound seniors. Gift certificate givers may choose to provide meals for a day, week, month or year.

Cost: $3.68 for one day, $18.40 for one week, $80.96 for one month and $956.80 for the entire year. Gifts may be tax-deductible.

Where: Checks should be made payable to Forsyth County Senior Services, Holiday Gift Certificate Program and can be mailed or delivered to the following address:

• Forsyth County Senior Services

7305 Lanier Drive

Cumming, GA 30041

Contact: Call FCSS at (770) 781-2178 or visit forsythco.com/seniors for more information about the program.



The Place of Forsyth County Holiday House

Each year in Forsyth County, hundreds of parents struggle to make the holidays special for their families.

What: For the third year, residents can be donated to The Place of Forsyth County’s third annual Holiday House, a place where parents can shop for Christmas presents for their children. Last year, The Place gave Christmas to 2,075 children. This year’s Holiday House will take place Thursday, Dec. 14 through Saturday, Dec. 16.

Where: Freedom Tabernacle Church, 2160 Freedom Pkwy., Cumming

Contact: The Place’s program office, phone number (770) 887-1098