HomeNewsRusty Mac Adopt-a-teen charity enters 25th Christmas season

Rusty Mac Adopt-a-teen charity enters 25th Christmas season

The Rusty Mac Adopt-a-Teen Christmas drive continues its tradition for the 25th year this year as Rita McCaslin keeps the drive going.

“This was something that was near to Rusty’s heart, and it’s grown so much since his death because it’s become something that helps a lot of teenaged kids this time of year,” McCaslin said.

Rusty Mac was a local radio personality who was popular in the market and hosted a morning show with the late Conrad Delaney. Rusty died in 2004 after having a heart attack while on the air.

But it was seven years before that when Rusty began that effort that continues his legacy nearly two decades after his passing.

Rusty had a child who’d died as an infant. And 13 years later, Rusty decided as a tribute to his child to seek out a teenager whose family might need help providing that child with Christmas gifts that year and get some gifts.

“He did that 25 years ago for one child, and then the next year he asked, ‘If one child needed that help, how many more need it?’” McCaslin said.

He talked with the staff at the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse and found out there were many more than one that could use help. It’s grown well into the triple digits, peaking at more than 500 a few years ago. This year, there are 362 teenagers who are clients of the Carl Perkins Center in the 20 counties of rural West Tennessee.

“So what we do is we raise $100 to get gifts for these children,” McCaslin said. “And a lot of times, the gifts they ask for aren’t what you’d expect.

“Of course there are the typical requests like video games or phones or something like that, but most of the time the requests are more basic, and sometimes heartbreaking. A lot of kids won’t ask for anything for themselves, but instead ask for gifts to give a younger sibling or their parents. One year, we had a child ask for toilet paper. Most people don’t need to know much personally about a child to guess they’ve had a rough year if they’re asking for toilet paper or soap or deodorant for Christmas.”

Anyone wishing to donate can do so online at carlperkinscenter.org or call the center at 731-668-400 for other ways to give.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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