Robin Cooper
Trent Penny/The Anniston Star

Robin Cooper moved to Anniston in 1971 and has spent much of her time here as a volunteer with local organizations, including Interfaith Ministries’ Christmas Clearing House. Christmas Clearing House helps provide a Christmas for local families who would otherwise not be able to afford one.

What is your professional background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Memphis State University, now known as the University of Memphis. I taught for a few years. I have been an office manager, as well. Right now, I work for a man who owns an estate sale company; that is my fun job. I also address wedding invitations.

Why did you pursue a degree in education?

Well, at the time, back in the ’60s, women could either be a secretary, teacher or a nurse. There were not a whole lot of options. I loved children, and I was interested in being a teacher.

What job have you enjoyed most?

I would say being a volunteer has been the most fun. I have been a full-time volunteer all through the years here in Anniston. I was president of the Junior League back when we became a Junior League; before that we were a Service League, and before that, we were the Shakespeare Festival. When the Shakespeare Festival moved to Montgomery, we did not want to lose this awesome group of volunteers, so we became a Service League. That all took place in about 1990 or 1991.

What organizations do you currently volunteer with?

I volunteer a lot with my church, Anniston First United Methodist. I am still a sustainer with the Junior League. I volunteer every year with Christmas Clearing House. Something else I love to do is volunteer with the school-day performances of “The Nutcracker” with the Knox Concert Series. Anytime somebody asks me to do something, I usually do it, if I am not busy with the estate sale company.

Why do you continue to work with Christmas Clearing House every year?

I believe in the purpose and the focus of the service we do for so many people in this community.

What is Christmas Clearing House?

This is something we do for the people in our community who cannot financially provide a Christmas for their family. Sometimes it is an elderly couple. Everyone knows children believe in Christmas and look forward to toys and gifts and clothing and a Christmas dinner; that is what is provided by the gift certificates that Christmas Clearing House hands out.

Why does Christmas Clearing House provide gift certificates instead of items for the families?

We discovered over the years that the head of the household really preferred to go and pick out items for their children’s gifts. That is when we decided to start using gift certificates. This year, as well as the last couple of years, it has all been done through the Anniston Walmart. The clients are screened, then they take their gift certificates to the store; they are not allowed to purchase anything other than clothing, food and toys — no alcohol or cigarettes.

Who organizes Christmas Clearing House each year?

This is a ministry through Interfaith Ministries, but a different area church heads it up each year, with other area churches supplying volunteers. This year, my church is in charge of Christmas Clearing House.  

What is your position with Christmas Clearing House?

I am on the office committee; we send out acknowledgements when someone donates to Christmas Clearing House. One reason that I enjoy this part of Christmas Clearing House is because I get to do that cursive handwriting I used to teach to children. Many times a donation is made in honor or memory of someone, and we write a card acknowledging those people. Donations still come in after Christmas.

How many acknowledgements have you written so far this year?

We have written about 200 acknowledgements so far.

How can the community help?

The community can still donate. Interfaith is closed this week, but donations can still be mailed or sent online. Mail donations to Interfaith Ministries, Box 1444, Anniston, AL 36202. Write “Christmas Clearing House” on the memo line. Online donation is available at interfaithcalhoun.org.

Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at faith.h.dorn@gmail.com.