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      Anniston Army Depot provides presents for 150 children in DHR care

      The Anniston Army Depot sent a fleet of trucks across town for this year's Christmas Cheer program.

      Volunteers unloaded box after box after box, full of gifts.

      The toys, bicycles, and clothing will go to about 150 children in protective custody through the Calhoun County Department of Human Resources.

      "It is completely overwhelming to us," Sandy Fortner said.

      "The children that get these gifts and these toys on Christmas morning have bright faces and they're just so excited by it."

      Fortner{}is CCDHR's program supervisor for foster care and family preservation.{} The state's foster care program is set up to provide holiday items for children in foster homes.{} Fortner said that is not the case in the family preservation unit program, where children continue to live in their own home with a parent or relative.

      "We provide services to that family to try not to put children in foster care.{} Our goal is always for kids to be where they need to be, as close to family as possible," Fortner said.

      "These gifts are going to go to children who don't typically get funding like our foster care system gets funding so it's not something that we would not have been able to provide to them."

      DHR case workers asked children what they hoped Santa might bring them for Christmas.{} The workers passed along those wish lists to depot employees, who raised about $22,000 to buy gifts.{} They spent $150 to $175 on items for each child, which volunteers wrapped and boxed for delivery.

      "In this partnership with the community, for them to have the opportunity to share, not only from a financial aspect, but...they were able to do it in a personal aspect as well," depot commander Brent Bolander said.

      "It's about community, and it's about sharing, and it's about putting smiles on people's faces that you don't know.{} When folks do that, it's awesome."

      The depot workers said they wish they could see the kids' smiling faces on Christmas morning, but did not do this to get any credit or thanks from the children.

      "When Jimmy or Adriana or whomever opens that package, they're going to be happy," Bolander said.

      "Those young children aren't thinking about 'who gave that to me'.{} They're thinking about 'hey, I got something', and they're going to have fun with it.

      "For that moment in time, they're happy.{} That's what the folks at the depot... That's why they're here and that's why they're supporting this process," he said.

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