BOGATA — Christmas came a little early Sunday afternoon at the community center here as more than 400 people in need of a little extra help during the holidays participated in the Spirit of Giving.

It took a little less than 30 minutes for the crowd to exchange tickets for a variety of items ranging from Christmas stockings filled with goodies to hygiene kits, socks and gloves to brand new toys.

The highlight of the day came when 35 children received new bikes and scooters provided by businesses and individuals.

“We have twice as many people here today as we had last year, and they came not just from Bogata but from Deport and Clarksville,” event organizer Marla Ballard said. “No financial questions were asked, and no one was turned away.”

Torina House and daughter, Sarah, of Cuthand United Methodist Church were representative of the many organizations that came together to provide a plethora of items ranging from household goods to plastic balls handed out by members of the Rivercrest High School basketball team.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to reach out in love to the

community,” House said as her church group handed out laundry baskets filled with a variety of paper goods.

Spirit of Giving began about 10 years ago in Paris at the First Methodist Church and spread to other churches and organizations in the area, Ballard said.

“It’s amazing to see people come together and receive so much joy in giving to those who need a little extra help at Christmastime,” Ballard said.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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