Edwards donates to senior centers

Published 7:38 pm Friday, December 21, 2018

VALLEY — On Friday morning, Ray Edwards and great-grandson Gavin Walden completed their whirlwind tour of local senior centers  to present Christmas stockings to seniors.

Edwards has served multiple terms as a city council member and is the board chairman of the Alabama Department of Senior Services. He has always had a soft spot in his heart for seniors and it always shows this time of year with the visits to local senior centers and giving everyone a free stocking filled with fruit, candy small gifts, a new coffee cup and a Christmas card signed by he and wife Jackie.

The final presentation was really special for him. He did it in Valley’s new senior center, something he’d long sought while in office.

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“It’s really special to be here today,” Edwards said, thanking Mayor Leonard Riley and the current council for  making the dream of a new senior center a reality. The new center opened this past May.

“Me and Gavin have been planning to deliver these stockings for a long time,” he said. “When I was a little boy, my daddy used to grow turnip greens and give them away on Saturdays. Maybe that’s what got me started. Gavin has told me he wants to keep doing it when I can no longer do it.”

Edwards thanked newly-elected County Commissioner Debra Riley for helping him fill the stockings this past week.

“We did it in two-and-a-half hours,” he said. “I also want to thank Timeless Antiques owner Carol Presher for helping us. It would have taken us a lot longer without their help.”

Mrs. Riley said  that Gavin had done an exceptional job in getting it done.

“He’s only nine,” she said. “He was with us the whole time, and he never stopped. Most children his age aren’t that dedicated. He’s a fine young man.”

Edwards had an emotional moment near the end of the presentation.

“The Lord has taken care of me,” he said. “I know I have some health issues heading into next year. I ask you all to keep praying for me,”

The large group of seniors nodded in agreement that they would.  Mayor Riley thanked Edwards on having had this stocking program for 26 years now. He said that he was most pleased to have it in a new senior center. He said that not all the payments had been made for it, and for good reason.

“We have some leaks in the building,” he said. “We are holding $42,000 from a contractor until they get this fixed. They have told us they will do it in the new year. We’ve been planning this senior center for a long time. It’s open and we’re happy about that, but we want the roof to be fixed.”

Over the past few days, Edwards and his great grandson delivered more than 200 Christmas stockings to Chambers County seniors.

“We went to LaFayette for the first time this year, and it was great,” he said. “Mayor Barry Moody was there, and everyone was so welcoming.”

They also made stops at the Lanett Senior Center, Sylvia Word Manor, EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home and Valley Park Manor assisted living. Gavin said that he likes being with his paw-paw this time of year and playing Santa Claus for so many good people.