Rockdale nonprofits spread holiday cheer all month long

josie dean cici ross christmas gifts

 

By Mackenzie Morgan

This month, the Rockdale County Think Tank and Visions of the Minds and  have been on a mission to spread holiday joy in their local community of  Conyers. The mother-daughter organizations, created by Josie Dean and CiCi Ross, said they hope their efforts will inspire others to help those less fortunate during and beyond the holiday season.

“Giving is a year-round job. There’s always someone in need and it’s our job as a community to ensure these needs get met,” said Rockdale County Think Tank Founder Josie Dean.

CiCi Ross, who runs Visions of the Minds, said that each year the list of families in need grows.

“This year, the pandemic hit a lot of families really hard and we just want to make sure the kids still have something to smile about. Growing up, receiving Christmas gifts was such as special time and we just want to help other families create memories they can cherish despite whatever hardship they may be facing,”  said Ross.

 

Coming together

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Volunteers gathered at Visions of the Minds Headquarters earlier this month to wrap presents to gift Stoneview’s youngest pupils. Nearly two hundred pre-K and Kindergarten students received toys and clothes just before the holiday break.

Christopher Mostiller, who is Stoneview’s registrar, said that the school depends heavily on community partnership to ensure students are equipped for success.

Many of Stoneview’s students are on the free or reduced lunch program and live in one of the eleven (and growing) neighboring low-income apartment complexes and whose families might not otherwise be able to afford presents during the holidays.

“Our principal, Cassandra Davis, is very focused on meeting the needs of the children not just academically but holistically. We know that the holidays is one of the hardest times for families and we just want to do our part to make sure the kids are happy,” said Mostiller. “We are so thankful for Cici at Visions of the Minds for making sure our kids have something to look forward to during the holiday season.”

 

Seasons Greetings for Rockdales oldest residents

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To spread a little holiday cheer to Rockdale’s oldest residents, Visions of the Minds and Rockdale County Think Tank distributed dozens of handmade greeting cards to seniors at the South Ellis Adult Daycare in Conyers.

“We have to make sure our seniors feel loved and remind them every chance we get that they are not forgotten and hold a special place in our community,” said Rockdale County Think Tank Founder Josie Dean.

The specialty handcrafted cards were made by students from Stoneview Elementary School in Lithonia, Children of Excellence at Amber Grove in Cobb County, Most Valuable Kids of Greater Atlanta and family volunteers from Visions of the Minds.

 

Collaborating for good with Amy’s Holiday Party

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Earlier this month, Visions of the Minds and Rockdale County Think Tank teamed up with Amy’s Holiday Party to gift more than 200 children with presents. The event was held at a private location in Chamblee, Georgia on Dec. 4 where hundreds of kids received presents.

Each child in attendance was paired with a teen volunteer to shop, eat and hang out with. The event featured a dance floor and DJ, food and activities for all ages, including arts and crafts, arcade and carnival-style games. Children and families could also line up to get a free photo with Santa.

Rockdale County Think Tank Founder Josie Dean said she was able to help more than two hundred children through Amy’s Holiday Party which is now in its 27th year.

“It was a joy working with Amy’s Holiday Party and seeing kids I served on Glenwood come back as volunteers to make this a success. I was so inspired and impressed by the willingness of the youth from Amy’s Holiday Party to show up and support other kids who have less than them. It is so important that our youth understand the importance of giving back to those who are less fortunate. We cannot afford to wait for sponsors. We all need to pitch in, do our part and make sure everyone feels good on the holidays,” said Dean.

Amy’s Holiday Party 2021

 

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