It seems everyone in Newnan knows Frances Smith. "She's been an icon in this community for a long time," says Newnan Police Chief Douglas "Buster" Meadows.
Chief Meadows was among the Newnan Police Department employees the CBS46 Surprise Squad gathered as a way to honor one of their own.
Frances Smith has spent more than 40 years getting to know the people of Newnan, be it at her job as a school crossing guard, or on the city's parking patrol. Everyone who knows her says they're not surprised by how much she does for others.
That includes her work on Project Joy, a holiday gift drive that provides gifts for every person in the custody of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. Hundreds of kids get their Christmas wishes every year because of Frances Smith.
Her work with children in foster care began right in her own home. "Our first child was a 15-year-old boy. He was so bad they had kicked him out of three group homes. They asked us to keep him for two weeks so they could find another group home. When the two weeks came, they did have a place for him to go, but he didn't want to leave and we didn't want him to leave," Frances explains.
She recalls having as many as 11 foster children in her home at once. Over the years, more than 120 kids have come through her home. "Some we kept two days, some we kept two weeks, some we kept years," she says.
She would go on to adopt nine of them, inspiring them to rise above where they came from to live better lives as adults.
For her efforts to create a better community, United Community Bank and the CBS46 Surprise Squad gave Frances $2,000 to use as she sees fit.