HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Disadvantaged children will have a reason to smile this holiday season, thanks to the generousity of Smokies GT, a non-profit club of Porsche owners that raises funds for worthy charities.
The organization hosts a local event each spring to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and graciously extended $5000 of their good-will to the Shop with a Hero program.
Hiawassee Police Department heads the annual initiative, pairing first responders with area children to travel and purchase Christmas gifts, while providing a positive mentoring experience.
Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith expressed deep gratitude for the donation from Smokies GT, as well as to others who have contributed to the cause, for the added ability to bring deserved cheer to underpriviledged children.
A founder of Smokies GT provided background information on the charitable club.
“We have an annual event in Hiawassee along with smaller events throughout the year. The focus is on enjoying these great cars in ways for which they were built, on the track, and on mountain roads. At the spring event, we enhance our passion of driving by also raising funds for charitable causes. One of our members has two children with Cystic Fibrosis- so a great deal of focus is for us to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, relayed, “Hiawassee has always been so welcoming to our group so we would love to find more ways to give back to the community.
“The Smokies group was started “by accident” by a few Porsche GT3 owners who simply wanted to go for a mountain drive. The drive got bigger and bigger, turned into a weekend and we are now in our sixth year,” the representative continued, “The group has grown to over 400 GT owners from all over the US and some from Canada. There will be over 100 Porsche GT’s at this year’s event in Hiawassee, coming from as far as Seattle.
“Our group is informal, a family, and brings together like-minded individuals, many of whom have become lifelong friends through the event. As part of the 2019 event, we will do a track day at Road Atlanta, Mountain Drives in GA / TN / NC and will rent Heaven’s landing airstrip where we take CF patients and underprivileged kids for the ride of their life down an open runway in a Porsche GT! Over the past few years, our group has raised over $500,000 for charity and we expect to double that amount to a total of close to $1,000,000 in 2019.”
For additional information on Smokies GT, visit their website.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Sunny Isles Beach Police Department and its city have teamed up with Chief Paul Smith and the Hiawassee Police Department, to augment the annual Shop with a Hero program, for deserving children in need.
In a recent meeting with Chief Smith and Mayor Ordiales, recently retired Police Chief Fred Maas offered assistance to this worthwhile cause, having had a similar program back in Florida.
Maas is a recent, permanent resident to the Hiawassee and Towns County area after 44 years of service in South Florida law enforcement.
“It is our strong commitment to community and our desire to help this worthwhile program for the local children and families,” Maas said, “Our agency has sent bags and bags full of new toys and gifts, in addition to supplying monetary donations to Chief Smith to help with Christmas and holiday shopping for the kids.
“Sunny Isles Beach is an Oceanside community on Miami Beach, Florida, where community, police and government work in concert for the benefit of all residents and business owners. So this program and that of Sheriff Clinton for Towns County are familiar to us and we wanted to be a part of it and show our support for it. Everyone has been given talents and blessings by God. How we choose to use them and share them, is the real question and test.”
Maas plans to work with and support Chief Smith in any way possible for the success of this and other programs deemed beneficial to the people of Hiawassee.
“We are extremely grateful for the support shown by Chief Maas and the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department,” Chief Smith said, “Many children will have a brighter Christmas because of their donations. This program is so important to the families and children who get to participate in it, and for the first responders who volunteer for it. Donations to this program allow law enforcement officers to have a positive and impactful experience with our community children, which we may otherwise not be able to have. It builds relationships and memories that last a lifetime.”
If you wish to donate to Shop with a Hero, you may do so at Hiawassee City Hall or the Towns County
Feature Photo: (L-R) Chief Paul Smith, Mayor Liz Ordiales, Chief Fred Maas
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith offered an emotional account of a Christmas past, expressing his care and concern for the children of Towns County, on the morning of Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, before the Movers and Shakers at Sundance Grill.
Chief Smith described the annual Shop with a Hero program, designed to provide disadvantaged youth with an opportunity to bond with area first responders while purchasing gifts, in hopes of a happier holiday season.
The program was implemented in 2006 by the late Chief Jimmy Wright, four years prior to Smith becoming an officer with the Hiawassee Police Department.
Originally known as “Shop with a Cop,” there were not enough law enforcement officers available to provide a one-on-one experience. Several children were once assigned to a single officer. Firefighters, EMS personnel, and the Coast Guard auxiliary are now active in the outreach.
Shop with a Hero began in 2015.
The police chief reminisced on a past year’s experience.
Smith was paired with a sixth-grade boy as they traveled with other students and officers to Walmart, each child allotted $200 in spending cash. Smith said the child chose some things for himself, then asked if he could spend the remainder on his parents. The sixth-grader decided on a gold cross necklace for his mother and cologne for his father. The boy proceeded to return the items he planned to purchase for himself, in order to buy gifts for his brother and sister who would otherwise not receive presents that year.
“It was such a moving experience,” Chief Smith told the group. “It made quite an impact on me.”
The now-chief later saw the student on the Hiawassee Square during the city’s Halloween festivities, and he remembered the officer in a kind light. Smith said the child had witnessed him arrest a relative, yet it was the shopping expedition that stood forefront in the boy’s mind. “Sometimes the only experience (children have) is seeing us in a law enforcement capacity,” Smith explained.
Several listeners fought back tears as Chief Smith recalled the memory.
A member of the Movers and Shakers asked the chief how many children participate in the annual program. “Usually about 20 kids, based on how much money we can raise,” Chief Smith replied.
Bill “Scotty” Scott, a group leader, announced he felt guided to “pass the hat” to collect donations for the community program and $944 was accumulated, the largest amount in Movers and Shaker’s history, affording additional children an opportunity to experience a joyful Christmas.
Businesses and residents can participate in the generous outreach via checks made out to Shop with a Hero, delivered in person at Hiawassee City Hall or mailed to:
Hiawassee Police Department – c/o Chief Paul Smith – 50 River Street – Hiawassee, GA 30546
The outing is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com