Cruisers give to Give-A-Gift; sheriff minting new coins

Cruisers give to Give-A-Gift; sheriff minting new coins

UCSO Maj. Shawn Dyer, Chief Deputy John George, Chief Jailor Tommy Holbrooks, Sheriff Mack Mason and Blairsville Cruisers Car Club Veterans Coordinator Charles Turner during a Sheriff’s Office Give-A-Gift Program donation last week.

By Shawn Jarrard North Georgia News

Members of the Blairsville Cruisers Car Club joined Union County Sheriff Mack Mason on Wednesday, Nov. 9, to present a $2,500 donation check for the Sheriff’s Give-A Gift for Christmas Program for underprivileged children.

“We just appreciate these folks so much,” Sheriff Mason said of car club members and those who support their efforts. “We can’t continue this program unless people help us financially.”

The Sheriff ’s Office collects Christmas program donations all throughout the year, and those can be made by groups and individuals at the front office of 378 Beasley Street in Blairsville.

Monetary donations are most useful, as gifts are purchased based on children’s wish lists, but people wanting to donate toys for kids up to age 12 should make sure they are new and unwrapped when dropped off at the Sheriff’s Office, and no toy weapons, please.

Many program referrals come in partnership with the local schools, but families looking to take part in the program can apply directly at the Sheriff’s Office the first full week after Thanksgiving. Parents should bring driver’s licenses as proof of residency and kids’ birth certificates.

And following the success of the Sheriff’s Office Challenge Coin Give-A-Gift fundraiser, which sold out in a matter of days last month, Mason is working to have more coins minted to give people additional opportunities to grab a collectible while giving back to their community.

“We hope for them to be here within six weeks, and we will run a notice in the paper when the coins come in,” Sheriff Mason said. “We’ve had an overwhelming response from the public, selling 150 coins within two and a half days of the North Georgia News article (in October).”

The Cruisers make their donation annually, also giving to many other groups in and around the communities where the club enjoys membership, including Union and Towns counties in Georgia, and in Clay County, North Carolina, all to benefit “needy kids at Christmas.”

The club hosts its own Shop with A Cruiser event each year, taking 80 kids shopping at Walmart, and the Cruisers donate to similar area programs, like the Blairsville Police Department Shop With A Cop, Hiawassee PD Shop With A Hero, the Towns County Sheriff’s Office Shop With The Sheriff, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Cops for Kids Christmas.

“On average, we raise between $30,000 to $40,000 every year with our main car raffle,” Cruisers President Dick Couture said. “The funds all go into the Blairsville Cruisers as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and we distribute funds to several organizations to help kids at Christmastime.

“So, all of it goes for needy kids at Christmas with the exception of a few thousand dollars that we do for technical and trade school scholarships, and then we help other people in the community as needed.”

The raffle is always a huge success for the Cruisers, who promote it during April-November cruise-ins in Blairsville. They also attend various annual festivals throughout the year, selling tickets at the Blairsville Sorghum Festival and Butternut Creek Festival, for example.

Additionally, car club volunteers assist law enforcement Christmas shopping programs by chaperoning kids, a favor returned by the Sheriff’s Office during Shop With A Cruiser, so the number of children who benefit from the time and money given by the car enthusiasts is immense.

“ We respect law enforcement,” Couture said regarding the Cruisers’ close working relationships with area deputies and police. “Many of us are veterans of the military, and we support veterans, we support police, and we support needy kids.

“And if it wasn’t for the support from the community, alot of these kids wouldn’t have a Christmas, so that’s our primary goal, is to help the kids that really need it. And we vet (those kids) through the school systems in most cases.”

For more information about the car club, including how to join and/or help out with its many initiatives, visit https://