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No matter how bad the national economic picture appears, Tate County can always be counted on to share with the less fortunate.

Case in point: the first ever Mississippi Santa Claus group, who collected funds to purchase gifts for those spending the holidays at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Memphis.

The group was started by local vet John Tamke, who spent time at the VA hospital and never realized how many men and women stayed there on a semi-permanent basis.

Holiday throws, fruit baskets (with fruit partially donated by Kaye's Food Market), and gifts were prepared for 35 men and women.

Some of the "Santas" had a personal stake in the event, like Melinda Clemons. Her son, Justin, was wounded in Iraq in 2009.

Jamie Ellis, a constituent liason for U.S. Senator Roger Wicker's office, visited with each patient and made notes of their concerns to take back to Washington.

The program was such a success, Tamke plans to hold a "Christmas in July" gift event this summer.

Shop with a Cop

Local law enforcement got into the giving spirit this year, as well.

Once again, the Fraternal Order of Police sponsored the Shop with a Cop event, which this year saw six children getting a Christmas they might otherwise not have.

Before the shopping event, officers gathered at the Senatobia Municipal Court and distributed hundreds of dollars in toys donated by local stores like Dollar General, toy manufacturer American Plastics in Olive Branch, and area churches.

Referrals for the programs came from the Department of Human Services, churches, and the situations the officers observed while on the job.

Year after year, Tate Countians come through for others just when they're needed the most.

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