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Guys and toys: Christmas rolls in for CDA
Toy parties help put smiles under the tree


December 12, 2012

The guys stand in Rich O’Donnell’s garage and admire their handiwork for the evening. All the toys will go to the Child Development Center in Roswell. HATCHER HURD.
All of the guys concentrate on getting their toys assembled, even if they have to do it one-handed while they chew on a buffalo wing like our friend in the center.HATCHER HURD.
At last, the truth can be told. Santa outsources. He gives congratulations to Rich O’Donnell for filling so many orders.HATCHER HURD.
Step one: Make sure you have all the parts.HATCHER HURD.
Of course there are those moments when all else fails — and you have to read the instructions.HATCHER HURD.
ROSWELL, Ga. Two lawyers decided to give back to the community no, it's not the start of a joke. Some 23 years ago, these two attorneys and college buddies decided to throw a party and have everyone bring a wheeled toy to assemble for the Child Development Association.

These days, Richard O'Donnell, Esq., and Steve Dorvee, Esq., each throw a CDA party at their own house, but the tradition and the results are the same.

Children of working parents of low income for whom child care would be a burden and send their children to the Child Development Center will know there will be something special for their children at Christmas too.

Together, these men who come to socialize and smoke cigars while they put together bikes and wagons ensure that some 60 or 70 children have a truly happy holiday season.

CDA Director Donna Smythe said these men make a truly lasting impression on these youngsters they are 2 to 5 years old and their families. Smythe said she only wished the men could see the faces of some of the children when they get their bikes.

The parents come to CDA's Santa Shop and some of them bring their children to choose what they want. Many organizations, groups and individuals donate any number of toys to the CDA. Smythe said it is important for the children to get nice toys.

"Four- and 5-year-olds need to ride a bike, they need to do puzzles, they need to have dress-up clothes. It is all part of that shared experience we call Christmas," Smythe said.

"One little boy got his bike and immediately rode out of the room, down the hall and out of the building. And as he peddled off, you could hear him whispering to himself, 'I always wanted a bike, I always wanted a bike.' It was a really stellar moment," Smythe said.

It also gives the parents a great deal of joy.

"Like any child, they have a lot of anticipation of Christmas. But it means as much or more to these parents," she said.

The parents of these children work hard, but for low wages the mean family income of CDA parents is $20,800, she said.

"This allows them to participate in Christmas the way everyone else does," she said.