A star shone like a jewel in the night sky above this infant’s birthplace, who was born one cold night to a young woman married to a carpenter. Kings traveled far to kneel in a manger, offering their wealth to a baby and wise men came bearing gifts.

On Thursday, December 17th, Santa’s Helpers once again came bearing gifts also, when they spread the spirit of the holidays, to 350 area children. With the faltering economy definitely putting a stress on budgets, parents needing a little extra help, picked up toys, clothes and other Christmas surprises for their children from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Sally Wells Building located at the fairgrounds, here in Lafayette, according to project directors, Gary Whitaker and Shelia Lowhorn.

“Originally Shop with the Cops,” Gary said, “Shelia and I took over the event after the police officers realized they didn’t have enough time or volunteers to help out with the time consuming event, which we renamed Santa’s Helpers in 2005. Thanks to Macon Helps sponsorship, we have continued to raise a tremendous amount of money during the year, with several businesses, individuals and organizations also graciously donating to our far reaching endeavor.”

“We raised $4,200 in the Grim Reapers Annual Toy Run and $5,685 in the Santa’s Helpers roadblock,” Gary continued, “totaling almost $10,000 in those two events alone. Cash Express raised money also, plus helping with coats and toys as well. We had donation barrels at Rite Aid, Walgreens, and the Lafayette & the Red Boiling Springs Dollar Stores, with employees at North Central Telephone and members of the Emergency Medical Services also pitching in.”

“We also want to express our gratitude to Doug Holder, for helping us with clothes for all the children,” Shelia noted. “After submitting a list of children’s names and sizes, he put items into shopping bags for us, addressed to each individual. And Faye Fitzpatrick has been a blessing in disguise for her hard work and enthusiasm.”

“I began doing similar volunteer work for children in Nashville 15 or 20 years ago,” Gary recalled, “and when I moved back to Macon County we started the Grim Reapers in 2003 and held our first Toy Run that same year for Shop with the Cops. Christmas is a season of giving, a time when we show our love to others. During the holidays, how many times have we thought about giving of ourselves? The importance of serving others can never be over-emphasized and the measure of our love shows in what we do for one another.” “This time of the year is a wonderful opportunity to help those who are less fortunate and need our support and Shelia and I want to especially thank the Grim Reapers, Macon Charity Riders, the Macon County Fire Department, the Middle Tennessee Region AACA, Jeff Dallas, Lisa Jenkins, Tony Wilmore, Shea Coin, and everyone else we have mentioned above. God bless you all!”

Santa’s Helpers have already started planning for next year’s project, and anyone interested in joining this worthy cause, please call Gary Whitaker or Shelia Lowhorn.