THOMASVILLE -- The amount of money raised was more, and that is a good thing.

The third annual Law Enforcement Goodwill Project in October netted $5,400. Of that, nine checks for $500 each were distributed Wednesday.

Among recipients was Amy Bennett, a fourth-grade teacher at Cross Creek Elementary School. This is Bennett's second year on the receiving end of the project.

Last year, she bought gifts for needy children. "When you work in the school system, you see the need," she told Goodwill Project organizers during check presentations at the Jail-Justice Center.

Karen Bishop, victim advocate in the Thomasville district attorney's office, accepted a check to be used in her office's annual spearheading of the Christmas program at Thomas County Head Start.

On behalf of the Georgia Wiregrass Chapter of the American Red Cross, Melinda Friddell, executive director, said her donation would help burned-out families at Christmas.

A check also was presented to Andre' Marria, director of the Thomas County Department of Family and Children Services. The agency's family needs are many, Marria said.

"Our whole business is children," said Holly Murkerson, Vashti Center personnel director, in accepting a check. The money will go to children in Vashti's emergency shelter at Christmas.

Jeanene Wier, director of Pathways, a psychoeducation facility, also received a check. She described the school's needs during the holidays as "excessive."

The check accepted by Jeanna Mayhall, of Hand-In-Hand Primary School, will be added to a love offering the school has collected for the family of a bus driver who had a heart attack and died at the school.

"The need is greater," said Wade Glover, a project organizer and chef for the annual chicken-and-rice meal. Glover, a Thomasville Police Department detective, attributed the need to the economy, an influx of Hurricane Katrina refugees or a combination of the two situations.

The October event exceeded expectations. "We raised a little over $5,000 this year," the officer explained.

The amount was $3,800 in 2003, and $4,800 last year.

Officers from the police department and Thomas County Sheriff's Office and Thomas County/Thomasville Narcotics/Vice Division sold about 1,400 tickets this year.

Money remaining from this year's event will be used as start-up funding for the 2006 Goodwill Project.

Glover expressed appreciation to those who gave pound cakes for the meals and to businesses that made donations.

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