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Giving is the ideal way to reconnect with the spirit of the upcoming holidays – showing generosity and thanks and helping others less fortunate than ourselves. Donating as a team promotes bonding and empathy and teaches long-term giving traditions that live on for generations. City of Thomasville employees are celebrating the spirit of the season by spreading joy and cheer to others in need through a variety of “giving back” opportunities.

A few years ago, the City of Thomasville created an employee initiative called Project 5000 to collect 5000 food items for the Thomas County Food Bank. Employees were encouraged to donate food items that would be delivered just before the Thanksgiving holiday. That goal has almost been met, with about 4,503 items collected.

“The power to positively impact the lives of individuals, families, and community through Project 5000 has been phenomenal,” said Ricky Zambrano, Community Outreach & Recruitment Manager for the City of Thomasville. “Whether it's donating toiletry items, organizing food drives, mentoring young minds, your actions can bring joy, hope, and inspiration to those in need.”

Another way the team gave back this year is through participating in the City of Thomasville Charity Fund. Employees can contribute a chosen dollar amount to the Charity Fund, which is deducted directly from their paycheck each pay period. Any city employee can request assistance from the fund, with requests voted on by all Charity Fund members. The remaining funds are donated directly to local organizations. These generous donations impacted nine local organizations, totaling $13,500 this year.

“The Charity Fund was created to directly assist our fellow employees,” noted Dominic Ford, Executive Director of Human Resources, Risk Management & Community Outreach. “Being able to give back makes us feel like we're making a big impact on someone's life, encouraging us to do better by uncovering a different perspective of happiness.”

Employees also have multiple opportunities to make direct donations to organizations during the holiday season. Employees can sponsor a child through Never Lost, a local organization that advocates for children in the foster care system, and Angel Tree, an initiative by the Salvation Army that helps needy families, and purchase items from a child’s Christmas wish list. Employees can also donate new or used blankets to assist Wecovery, a Peer Recovery Center that provides blankets to individuals needing warmth and compassion during the holiday season.

“The City of Thomasville has worked with Never Lost, the Salvation Army, and Wecovery for several years to help bring Christmas joy to families in need,” noted Zambrano. “This year, we assisted about 26 children through Never Lost and 19 Angel Tree recipients, purchasing gifts from clothing to bikes and toys. As soon as we made our employees aware of needed items, all items were accounted for in a matter of hours.”

Thomasville Fire Rescue and the Thomasville Police Department partnered with several local organizations to host Wander with a First Responder, formerly known as Shop with a Cop, an initiative pairing a child with a first responder to enjoy dinner and a shopping spree. Thomasville Police Department works closely with the city and county school systems to select the children for this event. Forty-five children were able to take part in this event.

These acts of kindness, along with City employees volunteering for other events including Hands On Thomas County Day, delivering toiletry items to those in need throughout the community, and multiple visits to the Scott Senior Center, add to the miraculous season of Christmas for those wanting a little joy during the holidays.

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