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Thumbs Up! - Oct. 31, 2011

When Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul goes into a school to speak to children, most pay attention. When the sheriff takes along inmates in jail attire, including handcuffs, the students are virtually motionless and hang on every word spoken by the real-life criminals. Such was the case last week at Turner Elementary School. The inmates, one male and one female, spoke about how they got in trouble and what life is like inside the Dougherty County Jail. The students were warned about the perils of peer pressure, truancy, gangs and disobedience to parents, teachers and the law. While the presentation is in no way intended to replace the responsibilities of parents, there is just something about hearing the warnings straight from the horse’s mouth that has a profound impact. Sheriff Sproul hopes to take this program to all the public schools and that is surely time well spent by all.

Many volunteer hours are involved in the joint effort by the Salvation Army and the Marine Corps Reserves to bring Christmas gifts to area children by way of the Toys for Tots campaign. It seems a bit early to most people to begin thinking (or worrying) about the big holiday but not so for this program. With eight counties to serve, the Salvation Army began taking applications for assistance last Monday and will continue through Friday. Resources and/or manpower will not be available to extent the Friday deadline. If you are in need or know a family in need, applications can be completed at the 304 W. Second Ave. Please do not let this opportunity get away.

One act of kindness demonstrated in the local schools equals one link on a chain. Students are participating in Rachel’s Challenge, so named for Rachel Scott, the first student killed at Columbine High School in April 1999. The chains have grown with each act of kindness and, on Oct. 20, the community had a chance to see just what has been going on between students within the system. When all the chains from the various schools was brought together, the length reached all the way around the track at Hugh Mills Stadium. The community is being encouraged to make chains also with a goal for next year to break the current record length of 28 miles. Can it be done right here in Dougherty County? There is simply no reason to think it can’t.

In all honesty, everybody likes to be the best at something. This month, the Marine Corps Exchange located at MCLB-Albany was honored with the Marine Corps Exchange Spirit and Pride Award for 2010. In addition, the Exchange was named best overall in the Marine Corps. Congratulations!

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany have a lot to boast about on any given day. Most recently, the after-school programs joined a nationwide celebration of their programs with a Lights on After School Celebration. The programs give children somewhere safe (with positive role models) to go after the last bell rings. Children are required to complete any assigned homework before participating in other activities each day. Through the sponsorship of the Kiwanis Club, the boys and girls set goals to raise grades through the Bringing Up Grades (B.U.G.s) program, an effort that just distinguished the local clubs as State Program of the Year from Boys & Girls Clubs of Georgia. Keep up the good work.

— The Albany Herald Editorial Board