12/21/12 — Student organizes Christmas project

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Student organizes Christmas project

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 21, 2012 1:47 PM

A college student from Goldsboro starting thinking about Christmas early this year and how she might give back to her hometown.

Georgia Tanner, a graduate of Wayne Country Day School, recalled hearing when she was younger that Goldsboro has more churches per capita than many other cities in the state, and by contrast is rapidly becoming one of the more violent.

"It just occurred to me that a lot of times the churches are not really doing their job," the junior biology major at Wake Forest University said. "God gave me a vision of everybody coming together. Despite our denominational backgrounds, we all have the same purpose."

Christmas seemed like the perfect time to put that into practice, she said.

"CHRISTmas in the City" was the concept, with the tag line on posters explaining it as "Wayne County Christians serving the community to show the love of Christ."

It evolved into a few efforts, Ms. Tanner said.

"We have several projects that we're doing," she said. "Students are baking cookies for servicemen and then we have a church that's doing a coat drive and another group that is doing a yard sale. There are all kinds of different projects in the community."

Before she headed back to college in the fall, she said she began contacting area churches, enlisting volunteers and trying to get the word out about the holiday project.

"Back in August, I visited, went to a lot of churches and tried to explain to them what it is we're doing," she said, estimating she probably contacted more than 100 churches.

While they were receptive, she said in all likelihood her unannounced presence might have been a bit daunting.

"I think a lot of people were skeptical just because I'm so young, that I could pull it off," she said Thursday. "A 20-year-old in college away from home. There's really no way I could have pulled it off."

And yet she did. Friends, family, churches and others pooled their resources to bring about free events going on around the city on Saturday.

"I think it was just God's glory," she said. "We have people from all over the place, maybe two or three from each church."

Two events have already been advertised.

There will be a free yard sale at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 200 N. James St., on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

A free pancake breakfast will take place from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at St. Paul Methodist Church, 204 E. Chestnut St.

"There's another free event that came up last minute," added Ms. Tanner. "The coat drive, also Saturday from 8 a.m. until 12, at Bethel Church on William Street. We'll have coats to give away."

She credits the willing hands of many with making this all come to fruition in time for Christmas, and said it reaffirmed her faith in the town where she grew up.

"I think it's been truly a blessing to see how people have really decided that they wanted to be selfless during this time," she said. "So often we get caught up in our own agenda.

"To see people really stepping up, doing everything they can do to really serve their community, just shows me that we have a lot of compassionate people here. It's been great."