BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (October 26) — Lou Ann Powers, director of Santa’s Helpers, is asking the public to help less fortunate families in the area to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with their families.
At 82, the retired elementary school teacher, whose passion is to help the needy, continues to operate the non-profit organization, not only during the Christmas holidays, but year round.
Powers founded Santa’s Helpers when she was an elementary school teacher. What started out as a seasonal charity, formed to ensure less fortunate children in the area have presents for Christmas, evolved into an organization of volunteers that works with several local agencies to provide clothing, household items, school supplies, and operate a food pantry to help as many families as possible to have enough food to eat. Santa’s Helpers also assists victims of fires, floods and other natural disasters, as well as the homeless and those in nursing homes.
These benefits are made possible through the generous donations from local citizens.
During the holiday season, the first big push is to request the public to donate food items, so those less fortunate can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with their families.
Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Boxes
Powers states the Dresden-based charity needs donations of meat, such as turkeys or hams, to help fill Thanksgiving food boxes for the needy. “If it’s only one person, sometimes they’ll just want a chicken,” she said. “I’ve got plenty of vegetables. I’ll buy the rolls and a salad to put in each food box. The meals will also include cake mix and icing for dessert.”
According to Powers, people are just beginning to sign up for the Thanksgiving food boxes, so she doesn’t yet know how many will be requested. However, she states, last year, Santa’s Helpers managed to provide 20-25 families with a Thanksgiving meal.
Powers mentioned Santa’s Helpers also provides a Christmas meal each holiday season to as many deserving families as possible. She explained, the items provided in Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes are for one meal only. Regular food boxes, given to the hungry throughout the year, contain donated groceries to supply regular daily dietary needs over a longer period of time.
“Needy families may sign up for either a Thanksgiving or Christmas food box, but not both,” Powers said.
She announced a One Day Kid Shopping fundraiser will be held in the next two weeks (time and date to be announced in the Dresden Enterprise newspaper and/or the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DresdenEnterprise). “We’ll have tables set up with different types of toys, and adults will pay $1 per child, for their youngsters to pick an item from each table to put in their bag,” Powers said. She states the money raised at the event is usually enough to purchase a couple of turkeys for the holiday food boxes.
Christmas Gift Program Applications
Powers states Christmas program forms are ready to be picked up at Santa’s Helpers in Dresden for needy families during the holiday season. Forms will also be distributed at local schools in the county. The age and Christmas wish of each child are listed on the forms. The program is available to all children of Weakley County ages birth to 12th grade. The deadline to apply for the program is December 10.
Christmas Gift Donations
Powers says she wishes for every child to have a gift under the tree at Christmas.
“Right now, we have plenty of clothes,” Powers said. However, she noted donations of new or almost new clothes are accepted and given to anyone that needs them. New toys, or new toys that were given as gifts but never used, are being accepted and will be placed in the children’s Christmas gift boxes. The high school kids usually ask for cosmetics or bath products, or other age-appropriate items.”
According to Powers, in addition to donations of food, toys and other household items for the holidays, Santa’s Helpers needs monetary donations to cover the cost of rent, electric, gas and phone bills. She notes the electric bills alone, amounts to approximately $500 per month.
Monetary donations may be dropped off at Santa’s Helpers, located at 216 West Main St., in downtown Dresden on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Or, checks may be made out to “Santa’s Helpers” and mailed to LouAnn Powers, 498 Evergreen Street, Dresden, TN 38225.
For additional information, call Santa’s Helpers at 731-364-3130, or LouAnn Powers at 819-3635 (cell phone).