Sweet success for Candy Cane Buddies

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer 

COLUMBIANA — The Columbiana Police Department helped more than double the original number of families through its inaugural Candy Cane Buddies program, thanks to local schools, businesses, organizations and individuals.

A total of 61 children, among 21 families, will receive a gift this Christmas thanks to the effort. CPD also took in three adults through Adult Protective Services through the Shelby County DHR’s Christmas outreach program.

“Our original goal was at least 10 families, and then we ended up taking in 21 families because the outpouring of donations, support and financial assistance were way more than we originally had come in,” said Kim Fuller, dispatch supervisor with CPD. “Everybody was so generous, so we were able to reach out and help more families.”

In order to participate, residents were asked to stop by Columbiana City Hall or CPD and pull a “Candy Cane Buddy” ornament from a tree, which included a wish list from a local child and relevant information. Volunteers then shopped for the gifts and dropped them off at police headquarters to be donated to families.

Fuller said those who sponsored children included five local businesses, several departments within Columbiana schools, and 28 individual citizens.

In addition, Six Degrees in Bama committed to providing Christmas dinner for every family, while Columbiana Tractor donated Piggly Wiggly gift cards for each family. FeelGood donated additional funds, and another unnamed business committed to providing stockings and stocking stuffers. Fuller said the other businesses did not wish to be mentioned.

“A special thank you to Arc of Shelby County and their Project Search students and Falcon Flight students for helping us organize, wrap and group the gifts,” Fuller said. “They came and spent a couple of days each week helping us organize, wrap and group and things like that. That’s a big deal for those kids.”

She added that some families were clients of the nonprofit Owens House.

“It’s really been great to see the community come together and provide to our kids, and the amount of love that they have shown through their generosity has been astounding,” Fuller said.