Christmas comes early ... because of you
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on December 15, 2013 1:50 AM
3-year-old Makhaylah chats with Santa Claus after picking out a Barbie horse during the Empty Stocking Fund Party held Saturday at Goldsboro High School.
Members of the Eastern Wayne High School Choral Group perform for the crowd that began showing up at Goldsboro High early in the morning. The teens were among dozens who volunteered to help out.
Madison has a lengthy conversation with Santa after she chose her gift from his workshop inside Goldsboro High School. She asked him if he could bring her a jewelry box on Christmas morning.
Most were eager to see if the rumor was true -- that Santa Claus was around the corner.
And their eyes lit up not just when they saw the pile of toys and the stocking full of goodies, but when they got a box of clothes of their very own to carry.
For the hundreds of children who came to Goldsboro High School Saturday morning, it was a Christmas dream come true, the chance to have a toy and to see the man with the beard.
For the parents who waited in line with them, it was quite simply, a blessing.
And for the many volunteers, performers and others who gave of their time, it was just another chance to remember the reason for the season.
Sponsored by The Goldsboro News-Argus in association with the Goldsboro Woman's Club and the Continental Society, the 101st Empty Stocking Fund Party was a chance to give needy children a spot of Christmas cheer in what otherwise might be a bleak holiday.
"The reason we do this is because we get an opportunity to share with these children and let them know how much we love them," said Patricia Stokes, the president of the Continental Society. "It just gives us a great deal of satisfaction when we get to see the smiles on their faces. A lot of these children wouldn't have a Christmas without this."
"You have to have a caring heart," she added as she looked around at the volunteers who were on hand to distribute toys and clothing. "This is a glorious occasion."
"Kids are our sole purpose," added Annetta Reid, the vice president of the society.
Joining the volunteers were members of the Spring Creek High School FFA chapter, who helped guide the youngsters through the maze of toys and helped them choose just the right one.
Kayla Thornton was one of the FFA "elves," helping guide children through the maze of goodies and onto Santa Claus's lap for a quick chat.
"I feel blessed because of how fortunate I am," she said. "Not everyone is, and I'm glad to come out and help and see them get a smile on their face."
Joshua Best, 16, was one of the teenagers who volunteered to lend a hand.
"It feels really good," he said. "They are kids who don't have much. It gives us a nice feeling to know they got something for the holidays."
The children are selected by teachers in the school system. Applications are sent home with the children, and their family's financial situation is taken into consideration when making the final list.
Chiwanda McLamb brought her four children to the party, and said she was thankful for everyone who donated either their time or their money.
"I think it's great," she said. "The way the economy is now, it's hard this time of year.
"Every kid should have something at Christmas. This means a lot, that people really do care."
There were many children who were concerned with more than simply their own wish lists at the event -- making sure their younger brothers and sisters got their chance first. Others asked Santa for gifts for other family members or made sure a scared little brother or sister had a big brother or sister's hand to hold on to as they made their way to see Santa.
One special boy even asked Santa for some help for his mother, who was ill.
Not every child at the party had Santa Claus and gifts on his or her mind.
"I just wanted to be her to celebrate Jesus," said Uneak Thompson, 9.