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VOL. 127 | NO. 232 | Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Spirit

WRVR Toy Truck benefiting Porter-Leath provides gifts to at-risk children

By Andy Meek

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Through Friday, Nov. 30, Memphians will be dropping off toys and cash donations at Bud Davis Cadillac in East Memphis for a special purpose.

Santa and Mike Warr, center, receive a donation from attorney Blanchard Tual at the WRVR Toy Truck, one of the biggest annual fundraisers for Porter-Leath, at Bud Davis Cadillac, 5433 Poplar Ave.  

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

It’s part of the 2012 WRVR Toy Truck, presented by BancorpSouth Inc., and it’s one of the largest events and fundraisers each year benefiting Porter-Leath, an organization that focuses on at-risk children and families.

The donations will fill up an actual toy truck and will then be used by Porter-Leath in a couple of ways. The gifts that fill up the toy truck are intended to fill the hearts of several thousand children this Christmas who are cared for in some way by Porter-Leath.

The cash donations – including money collected right there in the Bud Davis parking lot, at 5433 Poplar Ave. – also will be used to support the efforts of Porter-Leath, which dates back to 1850 and has been participating in the toy truck effort for 11 years.

The toy truck effort started out at the Laurelwood Shopping Center, but as the parking situation changed there, the event shifted to the Bud Davis lot, and Davis himself is involved.

“He’s a great host for us,” said Porter-Leath executive vice president for development Mike Warr. “He’s the host and sponsors the location for us, and he spends a lot of money for this on things like guards and a generator.”

BancorpSouth is sponsoring the toy truck aspect of the event, and Raymond James Financial Inc. is sponsoring the reindeers, which will be present. Complementing their presence will be more photo possibilities thanks to Santa, who also will be on hand.

Donations are being accepted through Nov. 30 from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The event’s media sponsor is 104.5 WRVR.

“This is our largest fundraiser,” Warr said. “Not only do we take care of thousands of Christmas needs for children, but we also raise $100,000 for Porter-Leath. And I always like to tell the companies that sponsor this thank you so much, because we couldn’t do this without them.”

The namesake of Porter-Leath was a woman named Sarah Leath who had a love of caring for widows and young children.

When she was 18, Leath left her home in Ireland to live with her brother in Alabama. There, she took care of her brother’s children after his wife died. She later married and moved into a house surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland just outside of Memphis.

When Leath’s own husband died, she was left to raise her two young sons. Small wonder, then, that she developed sympathy for the plight of orphans, the poor and the underprivileged.

Porter-Leath today serves more than 10,000 children and families every year through its various programs.

They include Spoonfuls, a program that works to provide meals to children. The Cornerstone initiative involves Porter-Leath helping prepare pregnant mothers and their families for birthing and raising a child.

Through Connections, Porter-Leath connects needy children with supportive family environments. The Generations program gives senior citizens the chance to make a lasting impact by mentoring disadvantaged children and adults.

Summing up all that history, scope of services and commitment to children is the organization’s tagline: “Better Children. Better Families.”

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