'The gift that keeps on giving'

Billie Floyd, chairwoman of the Joint Call-A-Ride Committee, is shown Monday at The Ada News. Floyd is holding a Christmas card from Tishomingo resident Dorothy Shackleford in one hand and Shackleford’s donation to Call-A-Ride in the other hand.

The holidays just got a little brighter for Call-A-Ride.

Earlier this week, Joint Call-A-Ride Committee Chairwoman Billie Floyd received a Christmas card from Tishomingo resident Dorothy S. Shackleford. When Floyd opened the card, she found a traditional holiday greeting and a $1,000 donation to Pontotoc County’s public transportation program — but no letter.

Floyd said she was thrilled that someone who lives out of town cared enough about Call-A-Ride to make a donation.

“Almost disbelief, and then joy,” she said. “If there had been anybody in the car with me, I would have squealed.”

Shackleford, who is the mother of country music star Blake Shelton, said Friday that she decided to make the donation after talking to a friend of Floyd’s, who told her about Call-A-Ride.

“If everyone in Ada would just give a little bit, it would really add up fast,” Shackleford said.

The donation was an unexpected Christmas gift for Call-A-Ride, a county-sponsored program that has struggled to keep its doors open. Earlier this year, the program’s financial troubles prompted Director Jeff Epperly to announce that he was shutting it down at the end of November because he did not expect to receive additional funding.

The nonprofit Valley View Foundation came to the rescue in late November, when it approved a $150,000 grant for Call-A-Ride. The grant will allow Call-A-Ride to stay open through the rest of the fiscal year 2018-19.

In the meantime, the Call-A-Ride Committee will continue looking at ways to keep the program going and improve its service.

Floyd said she hoped Shackleford’s generosity would inspire other people to follow her lead.

“I would like to challenge other people for this giving season to consider giving a gift that keeps on giving,” she said.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.