For the past nine years, veterinarian Vernard Hodges has sponsored a Christmas party with gifts for less fortunate children.
This year, Hodges, who has Critter Fixer offices in Bonaire and Byron, is sponsoring a shopping spree Saturday for about 27 children at Kohl’s in Macon. A Christmas party will follow at a Chick-fil-A.
Hodges does it through donations from clients and partnerships with businesses through a nonprofit foundation he created. The nonprofit is called Dr. Hodges It Takes A Village Foundation.
“We just try to pick kids who otherwise wouldn’t have anything, and we try to make sure they have an exceptional Christmas,” said Hodges, a Fort Valley native.
The children, who are mostly from Macon and Fort Valley, are selected through referrals from a school and day care center that Hodges partners with.
He started the program out of his pocket, and he later formed the nonprofit.
Hodges also uses the nonprofit to teach business skills to high school students.
Helen King of Perry has three great-grandchildren who benefit from the program.
Her great-grandchildren — 5-year-old Brayden King, 4-year-old Skyler Lowe and 3-year-old Lori Porter — received new toys and clothes last Christmas.
“It was fantastic,” King said. “It was more than enough.”
King joined her great-grandchildren at last year’s Christmas party. She said Hodges interacted with every child that was there.
“It just does not seem to be an end to what Dr. Hodges will do to make people feel good about themselves,” King said.
For Hodges, the Christmas event is one way to give back to the community.
“I’ve been very blessed in this area. ... Hopefully others will see that it doesn’t take much,” Hodges said. “If everybody gives back and does their part, we can all make a difference.”