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Exchange Club gives fruit

“It’s not for old folks. It’s not for poor folks,” Bill Haag with Exchange Club said. “It’s just folks that we feel are deserving.”

For more than 30 years, Exchange Club has given away fruit bags for Christmas. Exchange Club President Roger Legett said the bags go to widows of Exchange Club members, and also people in the community whose Christmas they’d like to make a little merrier.

This year, they gave away around 280 bags, according to Legett.

“We put all the bags together,” Legett said. “Each member takes so many and they have a group that they give to. Some have 10. Some have four. Some have one. Then we just go out into the community and deliver them. This year, we had a little excess fruit that we gave to the Berean Children’s Home.”

Berean Children’s Home has been operating out of Lincoln County since 2011 after moving here from Albany, Louisiana. Board President Wendell Davis said he knows several members of Exchange Club from when he coached Little League.

“They give them passes to let them go to Exchange Club Fair without any cost and ride all the rides,” Davis said. “They’re a tremendous support not only of us, but of the community.”

Haag said the year has been a difficult one because of the rising cost of maintaining the fair equipment.

“The last two years, we had a lot of major repairs,” Haag said. “All this stuff is owned and maintained by us. That took a lot of our operating capital, things that we would normally put back into the community in the form of gifts to one organization or another.”

This year the club decided to cut the budget a little bit, so they can get back on the financial ground they need.

“We’re not by any means destitute or anything, but our finances need to be in a certain position for us to operate and not be worried about something happening that we can’t cover,” Haag said. “Equipment’s a funny thing. You don’t know what you’ve got until it breaks. We don’t foresee any more expenses right now other than just regular painting and spruce-up.”

The Exchange Club Fair is Exchange Club’s primary fundraiser. Besides maintaining ride equipment, Haag said the money goes to helping organizations around the community. Exchange Club often helps Junior Auxiliary cook at its annual shrimp dinner, according to Haag, and they will sometimes also run rides for organizations like Make-A-Wish.