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Thumbs Up! - Dec. 30, 2013

THE ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD: Good news from around the area

Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful (KADB), under the direction of Judy Bowles, has the gigantic task of litter removal, recycling projects and protection of the county landfill, just to name a few of the agency’s goals. Bowles will be first in line to tell any and everyone that the work KADB does is only possible through the community’s volunteers. From telephone book recycling to trash stashing to collecting electronic equipment from finding its way to the landfill, all efforts are made possible with the help of non-paid citizens who care about the city in which they live. At a recent Dougherty County Commission meeting, Bowles gave her annual report. Volunteers for 2013 numbered 36,319. Those volunteers gave an amazing 84,772 hours of service to KADB projects. Were a dollar amount be put on those ‘for-free’ hours, the tally would come to $1,875,745.

Joe Farris has been a part of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since before the facility was even built. Farris helped the late Danny Thomas raise funds beginning in the late 1950s for the hospital that finally opened in 1962. Once open, Thomas asked Farris a simple question. “Can you do something to make the children happy?” Indeed he could. Farris began collecting toys for the children for Christmas. At the time, the survival rate for childhood leukemia was just 4 percent with a cure rate of all childhood cancers hovering around 20 percent. Because of this, Farris began his Christmas trips twice each year, July and December. Today, those cure rates are 94 percent and 80 percent respectively but the trips continue biannually. Farris just made his 103rd 550-mile trek to Memphis and back and plans to keep at it “as long as the Good Lord allows me to walk.” Some folks say that Joe Farris is “the real Santa” and it is easy to see why.

For a number of years now the field of health care has been booming. Students with an interest in the field have a wide variety of choices within the medical area of study as well as where to attend school for their education. Darton State College is one local choice that has seen great success and the Dougherty County Medical Society has done its part to assist. Recently, the DCMS handed over a check for $2,500 to the Darton Foundation to directly help students who enroll in the Health Sciences Department. The donation came from the society’s annual Riverfront Run held in October. The run promotes healthy lifestyles and the proceeds benefit students in their studies. Sounds like a win-win for everyone.

Before classes were dismissed for the Christmas break at Hutto Middle School in Decatur County, students held a Merry Market. There were turkeys calls, sweet treats, crafts and more. An estimated 700 students participated in the event as customers while 100 students made and sold items. The goal was to raise $1,000 to help build a new well for a school in Uganda. Instead, these young people raised $2,100. Students who sold the most items were awarded cash prizes, all of which were returned to the fund to build the well.

Another year is just about over. There are so many people and organizations in this community that spend most of their waking hours helping others that it would be impossible to name them all. If you are a part of one of those agencies, churches, nonprofits or an individual, here is a special thank you and a wish for a happy 2014.