CORNELIA – Cornelia Police Officer Lindsay Velez has a dream, and that is to see that every child at Cornelia Elementary School receives a present this Christmas.
While that may sound like a tall order, Velez has enlisted the help of Sgt. Ryan Hunt and the support of her department to begin holding fundraisers to accomplish her purpose.
“I got moved to a traffic unit and I work with the schools,” Velez said. “I went and spoke to the schools this year, being that we got hit with COVID pretty bad here in Habersham County, to see if they needed any school supplies. They said they were up to date on school supplies.”
But after digging a little more, Velez found out there is another problem at Cornelia Elementary School.
“I started speaking to the guidance counselor there and he was explaining to me that this year … they had approximately 400 students and 80% of them were at the poverty line,” Velez said.
Because she was not able to get into the school until nearly Christmas 2020, Velez already has begun working on 2021.
The first event is a car, truck, tractor, and motorcycle show set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 15, at the Cornelia Community House. The inaugural “Cars of Summer” show will have space for 150 vehicles in the paved parking lot adjacent to the facility, located at 601 Wyly Street.
Entry fee per vehicle is $10 or a new, unopened toy and those attending the show are invited to bring toys for collection that day.
“Our goal right now is we are aiming to be able to provide at least two or three gifts, outfits for the kids at Cornelia Elementary,” Velez said. “The kids do not know this is happening. We don’t want our kids to be made fun of, we don’t want bullying going on.”
That’s why the gift-giving effort will be kept out of the school and conducted without the children there.
“It’s called Miracle on Wyly Street,” Velez said. “We’re going to have all the toys posted up inside and we’ll do it by grade level. We’ll get a list of the poverty-stricken families within the school and we’ll have the mom or dad come up – hopefully, we’re shooting for the first week of December – and let them pick out age-appropriate toys. We’ll have people here to wrap if they need help wrapping. We want the parents to keep their dignity, to make them feel like they’ve done something good for the children. We want the children to be surprised.”
Velez said the department hopes to provide children’s activities during the car show, and hopes show volunteers will be overwhelmed with the number of participating vehicles.
“We are accepting any car,” Velez said. “I don’t care if you show up with a tractor. As long as it has an engine, come out. It’s going to be a fun day. All the money, all the toys are going to go up for Christmas for the ’21-’22 school year at Cornelia Elementary.”
Velez said the department welcomes car clubs, imports, old cars, motorcycles, tractors and anything with an engine.
Vendors will be on site throughout the show.
“I have a barbecue vendor out of Clarke County,” Velez said. “He’s also in law enforcement, works at the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office. We also have Quantum Services, owned and operated by a law enforcement officer and his family, and they will be out here making shirts and they’ll have cups.”
Sponsors for Cars of Summer include Cornelia Police Department, Cornelia Fire Department, CWG Boat Sales, Bruh’s BBQ, and 626 Upholstery.
For more information about the car show, sponsoring a fundraiser, or making a donation to help, contact Velez at (706) 778-4314.