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Christmas at Pineland

The Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes’ Pineland campus held its annual Christmas dinner Tuesday night, which saw a plethora of sheriffs across the state attend and speak. The Pineland campus is one of five across the state that make up the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes non profit organization, and the Christmas dinner has been a longstanding tradition. 

“A lot of people think this is for kids who are wayward, or who are in trouble or delinquent, but Pineland is for boys who have nowhere to go,” Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said. “Not because of anything they’ve done, they just have some bad family dynamics. We take them in and care for them, just like a foster family would. This Christmas dinner, we always go out there, and we go to the chapel and have some entertainment, then go from there to the gymnasium to have dinner with the boys.”

A concert was held on the 2,400-acre campus, followed by the dinner. 

“This is an extremely important night for us,” said Wayne Pittman, Resident Director of the Pineland campus. “This gives us a chance to say ‘thank you’ to some folks and show people what we’ve got out here. A lot of people still don’t know that we have Camp Pioneer, a camp that serves kids in the summer, as well.”

Camp Pioneer is unique across the state, and allows children the opportunity to be exposed to an outdoor summer camp environment that the boys might not otherwise get a chance to attend. 

The Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that was established to give the at-risk youth of Georgia the love, safety and stability needed to become mature, successful adults, according to the organization’s website. 

The organization relies on contributions from private citizens and groups to remain operational, and it does not receive revenue from the state. For more than 60 years, the organization has fostered and housed hundreds of Georgia children.

“They are exposed to a lot of different things as well. They went to the Georgia State Fair this year, and we want to expose them to as many positive things as we can,” Woodruff said. 

The Christmas dinners take place at each location and are all well-attended by sheriffs from surrounding areas, with a number of sheriffs making a point to attend each one.