Hoop Dogs Bring Smiles All Around

More than 100 Athens-area children enjoyed an early Christmas on Saturday, thanks to the generosity of Georgia basketball coach Dennis Felton, his 2007-08 Bulldog team, the Georgia Tip-Off Club and local Wal-Mart stores.

The first-ever "Bring a Smile to a Child" event brought together members and supporters of the Georgia basketball program, along with underprivileged children from the area, all at the Athens Boys & Girls Club. The Bulldogs, led by junior Terrance Woodbury dressed as Santa Claus, handed out thousands of dollars worth of toys and other Christmas gifts.

"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.

All of the Christmas presents today were donated by Felton himself, who created the event with a $1000 donation. Athens-area Wal-Mart stores matched Felton's total and added another $500 in toys, and the Tip-Off Club also contributed $500 to the toy fund.

Felton's Bulldogs depart Monday for Honolulu and three games at the 2007 Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic. Their first game is Thursday night against East Tennessee State, a game that tips off at 7:30 p.m., Hawaiian time, which is Eastern Time minus five hours.

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