While so many people look to the expensive presents and bright lights for Christmas joy, the boys from the Georgia Sheriffs Youth Home at the Pineland Campus in LaGrange believe that Christmas is meant to remind everyone of something deep within that sustains joy and peace year-round: “[Christmas is about] blessing others is need… those whose family isn’t around.”
“Keep Christ in the name of Christmas.”
“Family is important, just likeJesuswasonHisbirthday.”
“Sure, all the gifts are great, but really what matters to me is where your heart was when you got them.”
That’s a lot of wisdom from young men who, unlike most, weren’t handed the blessing of an intact family.
The Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Home began in the 1950s when Georgia Sheriffs began to witness an overwhelming number of children without homes and family support. They realized that these children were their community’s future, and they deserved love and encouragement, too. Georgia’s Sheriffs describe their youth homes as a way “to give our state’s most at-risk children the love, safety, and stability needed to become mature, successful adults.”
Sheriff James Woodruff explained that most people assume these services are a reformation program for troubled boys, but this is anything but that. These boys simply come from what the Sheriff referred to as a “broken home”.
Each year, sheriffs from surrounding counties come together to sing Christmas carols with special guest singers and enjoy Scripture reading from residents of the Pineland Campus in LaGrange. This year, Brent and Kathryn Bullington led the singing, while Pineland resident Gavin Reeves read the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2.
Following the Christmas production, guests joined the sheriffs and the boys of Pineland for a special dinner graciously catered by Kimbles. After everyone finished eating, Pineland’s boys told guests what they were thankful for this Christmas. One boy even played Christmas carols on his electric guitar.
For the Christmas celebration finale, the five sheriffs in attendance: Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff, Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith, Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager, Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker (also the President of the Georgia Sheriffs Youth Home program), and Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum (also the 2nd Vice President of the Georgia Sheriffs Youth Home program and the only female sheriff in the State of Georgia), wished Pineland’s boys a blessed Christmas and presented them with presents.
From gift cards and cash to other donations, the boys received their presents with bright eyes and “Merry Christmas” wishes.
This year’s Christmas celebration was said to be the “biggest crowd yet”. From community supporters to special government officials, all who attended felt at home as the Georgia Sheriffs Youth Home’s Pineland Campus welcomed the Christmas spirit and encouraged everyone to reach out to others during this special season.
One Pineland resident, As’John Ross, reminded the audience to remember the elderly in nursing homes, the homeless seeking refuge in shelters, and the children without families during this Christmas season. “Give them your attention if you can’t give them anything else.”
What an honor to be challenged with a special, local mission during this extraordinary time of the year.
Peyton Hanners Staff Writer