first_img Panhandle communities rally to offset holiday burglary loss April 1, 2002 Regular News Just two weeks before the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Young Lawyers Division was to distribute gifts to hundreds of children under the protective supervision of the Department of Children and Families as part of its Holidays in January project, disaster struck.The storage facility where the young lawyers had housed more than $20,0000 worth of donated toys, clothing, books, and school supplies was hit by burglars and about half of the gifts were stolen.“I was absolutely shocked and we did not know if we would be able to replenish those things that were taken,” said event Co-chair Adrianna Spain, especially in light of how much those in the community had already donated to relief organizations since the September 11 terrorist attacks. “We didn’t know if [the Escambia and Santa Rosa communities] had in their hearts to again help us out, and we were really blessed that they did.”Once the public was made aware of the theft, they donated thousands more dollars in cash, toys, and clothing. the time of the event in late January, more had been donated than had been lost, said Julie Jones, a past president of the Escambia-Santa Rosa Young Lawyers Division and now the First Circuit representative on the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division.“The generosity of the community turned a potential disaster into a success,” Jones said. “The community really came through in spades for us. They really pitched in, and we ended up having more this year than ever before.”Spain said the annual Holiday in January program typically serves about 300 to 400 kids, who each receive two to three items of clothing, two toys, plus books, school supplies, and stuffed animals.“It was amazing,” Spain said. “One man in my office made an anonymous $500 donation; another organization had three huge bags of stuffed animals they turned over to us. People who didn’t even know us or were unrelated to the legal community just sent us checks left and right.”Spain said the efforts just show how strong the community is and how the people of Northwest Florida can pull together in times of crisis “and can turn a bad situation into a good one.”Spain said the young lawyers ended up with twice as many goods as it originally collected and turned to surplus over to the Department of Children and Families to distribute in special circumstances, such as when children show up in emergency shelters.Spain also said the Escambia/Santa Rosa young lawyers would be happy to work with other bar groups across the state in helping them implement their own Holidays in January project. Spain can be reached at (850) 429-0755.center_img Panhandle communities rally to offset holiday burglary losslast_img