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December 16, 2007

Hoop Dawgs giving back for Christmas

It wasn't quite two weeks ago when Georgia basketball coach Dennis Felton got the notion that he'd like to have his Bulldog basketball team try and do something nice for Athens-area children.

After all, with Christmas just around the corner, what better time?

So, with a little help from the Georgia Tip-Off Club and local Wal-Mart stores, Felton's "Bring a Smile to a Child" was formed.

The event was a complete success.

More than 100 children at the Athens Boys and Girls Club benefited from the program, which included a visit from Santa Claus, who in this case happened to be Bulldog junior Terrance Woodbury.

"This was a wonderful day for a lot of people," Felton said. "We were able to spread some Christmas cheer to many young people that might not otherwise have such a bountiful holiday season. There were many people who made great contributions to this event, and I'd like to thank every one of them. We hope that we've started a new tradition today."

Felton, who got the proverbial ball rolling with a $1,000 donation, saw those the total kitty grow to $2,500, thanks to a matching $1,000 gift by Wal-Mart which added $500 in toys, along with a $500 donation by the UGA Tip-Off Club.

"We just thought it was natural to try and do something nice for the kids here in Athens," Felton said. "It all came together pretty quick, but we hope now to something on an even larger scale now that we have a year to plan for it."

Helping youngsters is nothing new for the Bulldog basketball team.

Players routinely travel to schools in and around Clarke County, speaking and reading to students, as well as take part in several community projects such as Habitat for Humanity.

"I think it's very important that we try and give back to the community," Felton said. "I know my guys have a great time and we appreciate the opportunity that we have to try and give back."

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