Hillary Freeman is using her talents in pottery to raise money for the Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center by handcrafting 1,000 ceramic Christmas ornaments in hopes to raise $15,000.

During an open house Monday evening, the center honored its volunteers and named Freeman its Volunteer of the Year.

Freeman, who owns HF Studios in McComb, was on hand with her family as she received the award from center outreach coordinator Trisha Artigues.

Kim Walley, executive director of the center said center has many volunteers who help daily.

“We have been adopted by First Baptist Summit Sunday school classes to help build us a new deck,” she said. “We have people who are helping make ornaments. We have volunteers who help us answer the phones. We have team leaders who are selling ornaments.”

Artigues said ornaments go back on sale Nov. 23 and ornaments are $15.

She said artwork hanging in the center was donated by Tracey Ferrell and the event was planned by Jennifer McNeil, who also volunteers for the center.

The advocacy center is mostly supported by fundraisers, grants and donations. Its staff interviews children who are either victims of or witnesses to crime in an effort to get the child’s side of the story on the record without having to relive their experiences on the witness stand in court.

Freeman said she’s been helping with the center’s ornament sale for three years.

“Mrs. Linda Byrum-Wallace helped make the ornaments the first year and she needed my kiln and she called me,” Freeman said.

She said she helped Byrum-Wallace and she’s stayed on board with the ornament project ever since.

Artigues said Byrum-Wallace now helps pull in sponsors for the ornament project, which results in no overhead cost for the center.

“One of the volunteers said that Hillary’s hands have touched every single ornament,” Artigues said. “That’s 1,000 ornaments, which means she’s put in 1,000 hours of her time.”

Artigues said the center is always in need of more volunteers.

“We have a supply list of things we need, we have an account on Amazon Smiles and we have a wish list. We need more volunteers for our call center and any kind of help in the office,” she said.

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