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Toy drive to benefit Harmony House

LaGRANGE – A local car dealership plans to do its part to help local children have a great Christmas this year by gathering toy donations for children in need.

Mike Patton Auto Family plans to hold a toy drive for Harmony House, the county’s domestic violence shelter, beginning today to gather together gifts for the children staying at the shelter during the Christmas season. This is the third annual toy drive that the dealership has hosted with the previous two year’s drives benefiting the Emmaus Shelter.

It all began with an employee who just wanted to help.

“Mario (Green) went to deliver blankets (to Emmaus) for a blanket drive, and there were kids there, and he wanted to help the kids,” said Andrea Tulin, who is running the toy drive at Mike Patton this year.

Green was unavailable for comment, but his efforts speak for themselves, thanks to the large number of donations that Mike Patton has gathered in previous years. With recent changes to Emmaus, Mike Patton decided to sponsor Harmony House this year in hopes of having the greatest impact possible on local children.

“LaGrange has such a wonderful, giving community anyways, so it is a wonderful opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit,” said Harmony House’s Executive Director Michele Bedingfield. “… We are extremely grateful to the Mike Patton family and the people in the community who drop off toys.”

The domestic violence shelter gives women and children a place to stay who otherwise might have nowhere else to turn, and becomes a temporary home until they can put their lives back together. Part of getting those lives back is giving children the gift of a “normal” Christmas.

“The toys will go to Harmony House, and we’ll make sure the kids get a good Christmas for their family,” said Bedingfield. “… By doing projects like this, we make sure they have an enjoyable Christmas.”

Toy drives like this one allow Harmony House to put the bulk of its funding towards shelter and security for the families it houses by making Christmas time exciting for the children with toys and fun even on the non-profit’s limited budget.

Mike Patton originally planned to hold a car wash in exchange for the toys, but due to Gov. Nathan Deal’s announcement of a level 2 drought, it was felt it would be environmentally irresponsible to have a car wash.

“I just hope that people still come out and help the kids even though they aren’t receiving a free car wash,” said Tulin.

Chick-fil-a donated coupons for the dealership to give out to people who donate toys today, and someone is scheduled to be available to help with donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on that day so that drivers can drop off contributions without having to get out of their cars. The dealership will also accept donations throughout the week in its lobby area.

According to Bedingfield, the area of greatest need is toys for children ages 12 to 17 who often don’t get as much because they are harder to shop for, but all contributions are greatly appreciated.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.