Gifts arrive in Mount Airy's adopted Missouri town

December 17, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

The tractor-trailer loaded with Christmas presents that pulled out of the old Mount Airy train station Monday completed its 900-mile journey to flood-ravaged Missouri yesterday, a day ahead of schedule.

Tonight, Mayor Jerry Johnson and flood-relief committee members Suzanne Mead and Dorothy Gosnell will fly to Alexandria, Mo., the town that Mount Airy "adopted" in August, to deliver the gifts to the town's 210 families at a holiday party tomorrow.

"I'm so pleased and proud to think this town and community came together for people they may never see or never know," said Ms. Gosnell, whose idea it was to adopt a town instead of a family.

Since the flood-relief effort began in mid-August, the committee has raised $40,000 and sent about $24,000 to Alexandria. Its goal is $100,000. The group plans to continue sending $1,000 a week so the town can count on a certain amount regularly, Mrs. Mead said.

Contributions have come from service groups, churches, residents and businesses. Donation jars have been placed in downtown businesses. Individuals and groups also have adopted Alexandrian families to make sure their Christmas gift wishes are fulfilled.

The committee has had a dance, a flea market, a yard sale, a walk-a-thon and other fund-raisers to benefit Alexandria.

Ms. Suzanne Mead said that during the Christmas visit Alexandria's mayor, Bob Davis, will tell the committee how the town has spent the money. Some has been used for building supplies and medicine.

Planning for Christmas in Alexandria began in September when Mrs. Mead received the names of 210 families who needed help during the holidays. She had been expecting about 100.

"The only point when I was scared was when I got the list and it was almost double the job," Mrs. Mead said.

She needn't have worried. All 210 families, about 500 people, had been adopted by Nov. 2.

In most cases, volunteers were able to provide the families with the gifts they had asked for. Even the fire department wasn't forgotten.

Volunteer fire departments from Mount Airy, Ocean City and Millville, Del., donated fire gear and equipment to Alexandria's fire company.

Some hard-to-get gifts turned up at the last minute, Mrs. Mead said.

For example, one woman's only request was a 30-cup coffee maker.

"Last week a woman called me and said, 'I've got a 30-cup coffee maker. Can somebody use it?' " Mrs. Mead said.

Flood-relief committee members said they felt a great deal of satisfaction when the tractor-trailer pulled out of Mount Airy. Bowman Trucking of Hagerstown donated the truck and a driver for the trip to Alexandria.

"Once the doors were closed and locked we really felt pretty good," said Mrs. Mead. She and Mrs. Gosnell said they are looking forward to meeting the residents of Alexandria.

"These people have had so many relief trucks pull in and unload and leave," Mrs. Mead said. "I think this program, where we hand the gifts to them personally, will be a lot of fun for everybody."

She added, "And I don't think they've had much fun out there in the past six months."

Although hundreds of people have donated money to help Alexandria residents, the core group of workers consists of Mrs. Mead, Mrs. Gosnell, Christine Bingaman, Pat Kressig, Ben Gue, Mayor Jerry Johnson and Sharon Hibbard.

The group is planning a benefit dance Feb. 4 at the Mount Airy American Legion Post No. 191.

In the spring, the committee plans to send another tractor-trailer to Alexandria loaded with furniture and appliances. Volunteers plan to make the trip then to help with rebuilding.

"This is an ongoing thing," Mrs. Gosnell said. "We've adopted this town, and we want to help them get back on their feet."

Tickets for the Feb. 4 benefit dance will be on sale for $10 at the Olde Town Restaurant and Ben Gue Antiques and Gifts.

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