Each year, the Public Administrator's office collects gifts for the wards in Newton County for Christmas. According to Joy Williams, the current public administrator, there are around 35-40 wards in our county. Each of these wards have little money or means, which makes meeting their basic needs an ongoing at challenge.
"We have two populations," Williams said. "The younger group is between 25 and 45 years old. Most of them haven't worked or are prevented from working by mental illness or by a current medical condition. They generally get $30 a month to cover their personal needs. That's $30 in, $30 out. The older population is anywhere from their mid 50's to their late 80's. They're more of the nursing home population."
A ward is someone placed under the protection of a legal guardian, such as the public administrator.
Williams described a common situation for older women who are wards.
"If you're an elderly woman and you never never married, your only income is the 30/30," she said.
"And that's for personal spending. The state picks up the nursing home bill because they don't have an income from a spouse. A lot of elderly women just don't have any income."
The public administrator's office has acted as the Guardian Angels of Newton County since 2013, under a previous administrator. That office also provides for the needs of their wards year round, helping with clothing, lap blankets, personal toiletries and more. In the past, Williams said that they haven't shared their efforts with the public.
"We've never really advertised what we do before," Williams stated. "We've just gone to local churches but there's so many (to help), there are so many activities."
To help make Christmas brighter for the wards, they're seeking donations of either specific items or gift cards, preferably for Wal-Mart.
Some of the items needed include men's and women's clothing, especially sweats. All sizes are needed but there's a specific need for size 3x. Hoodies, coats, underwear, socks, hats and gloves are also requested.
So are hygiene products such as bath soaps, shampoos, lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, and other items.
"The facilities will have soap and shampoo," Williams explained. "But they won't have hand lotion, denture cream, denture cleansers and Depends."
She's also asking for candy.
"They never get candy and they love candy," she said. "Think about what you might get in your stocking but they don't get stockings. A lot of the older people ask for ribbon candy or peppermint candy."
Another coveted item is adult coloring books and crayons or colored pencils.
"People love them. We can photo copy them and share them. A lot of the ladies decorate their rooms with the finished pictures. We'll find a cheap frame and give them that as a Christmas gift, too."
For those who may not have the time to shop, Williams suggests gift cards, preferably from Wal-Mart
"That way, they can get what they want and need," Williams said. "There's usually a staff member who can get what they want. For the younger people, it's nice to pick out a blouse or clothing that they like that's their color and style."
At the Newton County Courthouse there is a sleigh outside the collector's office on the main floor and in the lower floor, at the Public Administrator's office, there's a stocking. Both are covered with holiday cards and inside, county wards have shared their gift wishes. To help, area residents can pick up a card, buy the items and return them to the courthouse.
Since they'd like to deliver all the gifts in person. the suggested deadline to bring gifts to the courthouse is Friday. December 6. However, they will accept donations throughout December. Items can be dropped off at the public administrator's office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is located in the lower level of the courthouse.
"It's those small, little things that mean a lot," Williams said.