12/19/07 — Volunteers make Christmas special for needy families

View Archive

Volunteers make Christmas special for needy families

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 19, 2007 1:45 PM

Marta just could not spare the $20.

So instead of leaving her 1-year-old daughter at home with a babysitter, the single mother put her in the car and headed toward William Street.

Lucy won't likely remember where they ended up Tuesday morning -- or how she and her mother sought shelter from the cold inside the Salvation Army and accepted Christmas presents from people they had never met.

But Marta will tell you that one day, when her daughter is old enough to understand, Lucy will hear all about the "real meaning of the holiday" -- about how "people give away miracles" to those in need.

Marta's miracles included a pair of socks and some warm gloves to keep her daughter warm this winter.

And then there was the doll and the stocking and the Christmas dinner -- complete with stuffing, macaroni and cheese, vegetables and a turkey.

"It's hard to take these things. It's hard to know you became someone who needs them," Marta said. "But it's a blessing. It's a blessing for my daughter to have Christmas because of these things."

More than 400 stories unfolded in much the same way Tuesday as volunteers came together to help Goldsboro's Salvation Army provide a Christmas to local families in need.

Some were "humbled," looking down at the ground as they walked through rows of toys and stockings.

"This isn't easy," said Jasmine, a mother of one. "One year you can get every present on that list and the next you have your hands out."

She admits she is ashamed to be struggling to pay the rent -- so much so that she has not yet told her 7-year-old son that losing her job means fewer gifts under the tree.

Then again, maybe she won't have to.

He is going to "love" the Spiderman she picked out for him.

"I swear that boy will play with this thing all day," Jasmine said. "He'll take him to bed and fall asleep playing."

And then there was the Hess truck one volunteer handed her -- and the stocking, T-shirts and pants.

"God has blessed us. These people have blessed us," she said. "We won't ever forget that."

Melinda Upchurch won't soon forget her morning either.

She remembers when members of her extended family came down to the center years ago for "a little help" during the holidays.

So this year, the Goldsboro native and member of the 4th Fighter Wing decided to give back to a program she believes in, one she has seen put a smile on the faces of loved ones falling on hard times.

"I had cousins who used to come down here," she said. "I'm real glad I came."

Staff Sgt. Eliezer Colon, too, was glad he made the trip over from Seymour Johnson to help carry bags and boxes.

The airman said he was "just trying to spread the cheer."

"I have more than I could have, so I like to give back," he said. "I like to see the smiles on faces."