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Clark Hooks may be young, but he's one of the most seasoned veterans at the Last Minute Toy Store.
"I've been doing this 12 years," Hook said. "I'm 17."
He started sorting stuffed animals when he was only 5 and now, 12 years later he guided shoppers through the maze that is the Last Minute Toy Store, Sunday at the Sixty-First United Methodist Church in West Nashville.
"I'm a kid and I get to help kids," Hooks said. "I'm very passionate about that."
The Last Minute Toy Store has been helping families down on their luck put gifts under the tree for 19 years.
"They stand in line all night to get tickets to come in here," said Gene Cook, volunteer. "They're desperate."
Cook volunteers because he also knows what it's like to lose everything.
"In 2010 I lost my house in the flood," Cook said. "I know what it feels like to be desperate like that."
Cook estimates this year, the Last Minute Toy Store brought in close to $35,000 in donated toys, from donors as large as the Tennessee Titans and as small as single families.
Organizers said all of the dolls, games and footballs will make Christmas morning a reality 1,400 low-income families and close to 5,000 kids.
"I've had them break down in tears," Cook said. "It's a worthwhile cause. I feel like I really help people when I do this."
That spirit is what keeps the volunteers coming back year after year. Next Christmas, Hooks will be an adult, but for now, he gets one more Christmas of being a kid helping other kids.
"I see a child, I see a teen, that doesn't have Christmas and I see me, and how I would feel in that situation," Hooks said. "I just can t help but feel sorry and then happy to see them with their toys and happy to imagine them on Christmas morning, opening those toys and just being overjoyed."
Organizers said teens are often overlooked during toy drives, which is why this year they made a push for donations like video games, perfumes and athletic gear. Organizers said the community delivered so well that more than a thousand teens will also have age appropriate gifts under the tree this year.
Sunday, December 23 2012, 10:32 AM CST
Miss. chooses new firm to run Woodville prison
May 18, 2013 20:50 GMT
WOODVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi officials have picked a new company to run the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility.
Utah-based Management and Training Corp. announced Friday that the Mississippi Department of Corrections has chosen it to run the 1,000-bed prison starting July 1, the Natchez Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/10MvOGv).
Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn., had run the prison since 1998. MTC says it will keep "the vast majority" of employees.
MTC will get a five-year contract to run the prison with two one-year options. Last year, officials chose MTC to take over East Mississippi Correctional Facility, the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility and the Marshall County Correctional Facility from the GEO Group. MTC won 10-year contracts for each.
CCA still runs the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility and the Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi.
Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/
Gauge of US economy's future health up in April
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A measure of the U.S. economy's future health rose in solidly in April, buoyed by a sharp rise in applications to build new homes and apartments.
BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
AP Photo FX102, FX103
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By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. ...
IN THE NEWS: LABOR GROUP SAYS CONDITIONS AT APPLE PLANTS IMPROVING
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A labor group Apple joined to assess working conditions at three manufacturing plants in China, where its products are made, says conditions are getting better.
ON THIN ICE?
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- He was already on thin ice with the law when he failed to meet the conditions of his probation.