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Local service organization keeps ‘Grinch’ away from Mobile

There’s no “Grinch” in Mobile – 10 nonprofits and more than 411 happy children are proof of that.

Thanks to members of the Barry Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO), several nonprofits and Mobile-area families will have a merrier Christmas. Employees and contractors at Barry Electric Generating Plant “dug deep” to ensure nonprofits and other groups could meet community needs.

“Barry APSO members have such large hearts. We gave $20,000 to help nonprofits at the holidays,” said Barry Chapter President Krista Presnall. “Even though we were unable to hold our annual Barry Golf Tournament this year, we still raised funds for these groups.”
Determined the coronavirus wouldn’t keep them from helping their community, Barry APSO members helped nonprofits and schools while social distancing. Unable to host their annual contributions breakfast, Barry APSO board members Tonya Byrd, Cherie Gatlin, Adam Davis, Amanda Lofton, Sharon Meier, Roger Pettis, Patrick Smith, Stacy Walley and Jason Walters individually delivered boxes of with three dozen donuts – and a check – to 10 groups.

Barry APSO’s Sharon Meier (left) gives a check to help Dauphin Island Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Barry APSO / Alabama NewsCenter)

Dauphin Island Elementary SchoolFeeding the Gulf CoastGeorge Hall Elementary SchoolHome of GraceMission of Hope’s Taylor HouseMulherin Home, North Mobile School, Ronald McDonald HouseSalvation Army and Saraland Meals on Wheels received a donation.

While delivering a check to George Hall Elementary, which is Plant’s Barry’s Adopt-A-School, Stacy Simmons Walley brought 336 “Grinchmas” bags and donut-shaped cookies for students. In the past, Walley has helped host an Operation Santa program for Hall Elementary, visiting with children and giving each child a book. To make sure social distancing needs were met, Walley had the gifts delivered to her home, where she spent about three days assembling the bags.

“They were all over my house before I boxed them up … I had to make little walking paths,” said Walley, who ordered gifts from the Oriental Trading Co. She filled the lime-green paper bags with bookmarks, candy canes, frisbees and balls.

George Hall Elementary School students enjoyed a donut-shaped cookie for making the honor roll. (Photo courtesy of Barry APSO / Alabama NewsCenter)

For years, Barry APSO has congratulated Hall’s honor-roll students with a celebratory donut. But social distancing rules at Hall Elementary require food to be packaged for safety and to be distributed by teachers. Since the school couldn’t take boxes of donuts, Walley ordered custom-made, donut-shaped cookies from a bakery.

Students were thrilled with their unexpected gifts. George Hall Elementary School Principal Melissa Mitchell thanked Walley and Alabama Power on Barry APSO’s Facebook.

“Alabama Power (the donut lady) Stacy couldn’t bring Santa to Hall this year, but that didn’t stop her from making hundreds of gift bags for our kiddos! … The way you have always loved on Hall … it makes my heart so happy!” Mitchell wrote.

Wishes come true with ‘Gifts for Kids’ Christmas program

Members transformed into Santa’s elves on Dec. 15, delivering presents for 75 underserved children sponsored by the Mobile Department of Human Resources. Barry APSO met children’s and wants, despite not being able to host its 28th annual E.R. Covington Golf Tournament. Cherie Gatlin, a longtime Barry APSO member, coordinated the shopping project.

“We bought and delivered items on children’s wish lists, including toys, electronics and clothes,” said Presnall, who has served APSO for 10 years. “We had contractors who wanted to give – they enjoy the golf tournament and wanted to get involved. We know these kids’ Christmas will be brighter thanks to the generous contributions of Barry APSO members, friends and vendors that donated to the project.”

Plant Barry Team Leader and APSO member Roger Pettis played Santa for a day, delivering gifts for kids sponsored by the Mobile Department of Human Resources. (Photo courtesy of Barry APSO / Alabama NewsCenter)

Persevering to feed underprivileged families

In a longstanding Christmas Eve tradition, Walley and other Barry APSO members will deliver a full holiday meal to about 100 families in the Mobile area.

“We pick up the meals at Publix, which are full-course dinners with turkey and all the fixings,” said Walley, who has delivered Christmas meals to families for 10 years. The meals are funded by donations from Barry APSO members and plant vendors, “Families also get a gallon of milk and dessert. Last year, one man at a retirement home said he was able to feed people on the entire floor at his home.”

To ensure food safety while social distancing, Walley and other volunteers will wear masks and place the meals on people’s porches for easy pickup.

Presnall said she is proud of the entire team of Barry APSO volunteers, especially during the pandemic.

“This project for feeding families is a big deal,” Presnall said. “This year, we had a lot of people needing things.  I’m so very proud we were able to do what we did this year for people in our community.”

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)