12/24/06 — He shared his gift with United Way

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He shared his gift with United Way

By Renee Carey
Published in News on December 24, 2006 2:18 AM

Mason Bland got some money for his recent birthday.

And like most 10-year-olds, he started to think about how he could spend the $50.

But unlike most of his classmates, Mason decided toys, video games and other items for himself would not be a good choice.

He decided to donate all $50 to the United Way.

Mason made his decision after reading in the newspaper about the organization's Bring It On campaign designed to help the charity reach the $1.44 million mark.

"I knew you had a lot of money to raise," Mason told 2006 United Way campaign chairman Geoff Hulse as he handed over his money. "I just wanted to help."

Mason's mom, Penny, said she and his father, Bobby, are proud of their son's generosity. She even tried to talk him into saving a little of his birthday gift for himself, but Mason wanted none of that.

"She told me I could give $10, but I wanted to give the whole $50," he said.

Mason said he was especially interested in donating because of the Boys and Girls Club, which he said helps many local young people and is funded in part by the United Way.

"I wanted to do something for the poor children," the young man said.

He is not sure yet what he wants to be when he grows up, but the student at Parrott Academy in Kinston knows he wants to continue the tradition of giving back.

"I want to help others," he said. "It will at least be my part-time job."

And Mason is not alone in his desire to help others. His brother, Wyatt, 11, donated some of his money to Habitat for Humanity.

And Mason said the feeling of helping others was worth what he gave up -- a part he needed for his motorbike to make it "go faster."

"It made me feel proud," he said as he shook Hulse's hand.

The United Way is continuing its Bring It On challenge through the end of the year.

The organization was originally at 70 percent of its goal, but in less than a month and with the help of many local donations and fundraising projects, has managed to reach the 90 percent marker, leaving just a bit more to reach 100 percent.

Since the community has made 90 percent of goal, Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron will conduct two storytime sessions at the Wayne County Public Library Jan. 2.

In addition, the United Way is conducting a reading contest for local youngsters who want to sit in Narron's "dugout" during the sessions. Ten children will be picked from those who prove they are all-star readers by answering questions about books and reading. The first installment is in today's edition of The News-Argus. Additional questions will appear in Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday's editions.

In addition to the community efforts, the United Way is also accepting mini-Bring It On challenges. Friday, AAR Corp. plant manager Gregg Miner was arrested and held for ransom until his staff raised $500 for United Way. He was free -- with bond to spare -- in less than an hour.

To report a challenge or to donate, call the United Way office at 735-3591.