Archived Story

Toland celebrates birthday with friends and family

Published 2:20pm Friday, October 19, 2012

Justin Toland celebrated his 30th birthday last Saturday night on his family’s Ashland farm with 45 close friends and family members. Cows mooed softly nearby and the big red barn with its antique styled outhouse completed the quintessential country scene.

A large projector screen was set up against the barn to play the evening’s football games. Party revelers danced to country music by Sylacauga’s Rocky Lucas beneath twinkling camp lights. Hay bales provided extra seating and pumpkins, corn and mums decorated the rustic burlap draped tables set with mason jars and turkey feathered placemats. A Pinterest-inspired ‘Happy Birthday’ banner was crafted by Justin’s sister and party planner Jessica Sanford.

Barbeque sandwiches, Rotel cheese dip, buffalo dip, baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw were prepared and served by Wanda Toland and Jessica. The signature cocktail was Georgia Tea. The invitations were designed by Katie Beth Owens of Birmingham.

Spotted:  Dick Toland, Ryan Sanford, John Howell, Mack Jackson, Jackson Lilly, Mallory McMurray, Nelda Jones, Bob Jones, Ali Sanford, Kyle Sullivan, Ryan Adamson, Robin Gardner, Celinda Gardner, Leslie Toland, Elaine Sanders, Ashley Sanders, Wes Sanders, Courtney Sanders, Lane Sanders, Matthew Strickland, Deidra Baird, Ashton Baird, Blair Taylor, Mark Gilliland, Matthew Champion, Eric Murray, Andy Johnson, Holly Taylor, Angie and Phillip Strickland, Faye and Ronnie Abrams, Carey Anderson Jr., John and Lynn Toland, Celia and Tommie Gardner.

Russell Medical Center Auxiliary celebrated 25 years of volunteer service Tuesday evening by honoring 110 volunteers with a lovely dinner of beef tenderloin, potatoes and vegetables in the cafeteria. The meal was blessed by Tim Thornton. Tom Gassaway’s saxophone crooned in the background. Scrapbooks chronicling years of dedicated service were on display. Mabry Cook praised the volunteers for their “spirit” and “willingness to volunteer,” emphasizing the lives they have touched and how much they are all appreciated. Debra Blaire’s famous buttercream cake was served for dessert.

The volunteers’ wide array of services span from administrative duties to operating the gift shop. They provide patients with refreshments, pass out magazines, and act as liaisons between the nurses’ station and the waiting rooms as they take care of nervous families. In addition to the gift shop, they host a jewelry sale in the fall and a Christmas bake sale to raise money to go toward the two scholarships they provide.

On average, the Auxiliary donates back to the hospital about $15-30,000 each year. Sarah Newman has been Volunteer Services Coordinator for 8 years, and her passion for the program originated when she was a volunteer herself. Members were presented with commemorative coasters at the end of the dinner.

Howell works as an advertising representative for Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc., in addition to writing this column. Contact Howell at to keep her In the Loop of events.