Groups, individuals and others making a difference in the community were recognized Tuesday during the 43rd annual Human Relations Award Banquet.

The event, held at the Goldsboro Event Center, drew close to 100 people who celebrated the accomplishments of people, groups and businesses that promote unity.

"One thing we all have in common is we are all human, and we need to give back," said Bevan Foster, mayor pro tem on the Goldsboro City Council.

Awards were given to a local advocate, a new thrift store and established nonprofit, which have all provided personal services that demonstrate sensitivity and respect for human differences.

Shirley Edwards, an longtime advocate and chairwoman of the Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency, WAGES, was presented to Shirley Edwards.

"The city of Goldsboro and county of Wayne thank you for bridging the gaps within our city and county," said Dymon Atkinson, member of the Mayor's Youth Council, during the presentation.

Also recognized were the HGDC Community Crisis with the civic organization award and the InJoy thrift store received the business award.

The Community Crisis Center provides several programs, resources and education in the community from its base on South Slocumb Street. InJoy, a thrift store that opened about a year ago on East Ash Street, is mission-minded the provides a portion of its profit to the Wayne Pregnancy Center, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Habitat for Humanity of Goldsboro-Wayne and the Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County.

Each of the winners received a certificate of appreciation for their efforts.

Student winners of the 13th annual poster and essay contests also received trophies. The posters and essays focused on the February Human Relations Month theme of unity.

The student poster winners were: Kindergarten-second grade, first place, Skylar Bedford, Fremont STARS; second place, Annalise Hurst, Northeast Elementary; third place, Corrie Lancaster, Northeast Elementary;

Grades 3-4, first place, Rene Vega, Spring Creek Elementary; second place, Hank Anderson, Northwest Elementary; third place, Zulema Zamora, Grantham Elementary;

Grades 5-6, first place, Diana Lopez, Rosewood Middle; second place, Guillermo Estrada, Wayne School of Engineering; and third place, Catherine Young, Wayne School of Engineering.

Student essay winners were: Grade 7-9, first place, Mia Richardson, Dillard Middle; second place, Hulda Kabala, Dillard Middle; third place, Gavin Simons, Grantham Middle;

Grades 10-12, first place, Bella Bowen, Eastern Wayne High; second place, DeAnna Stowe, Eastern Wayne High; and third place, Rubersy Valasquez, Spring Creek High.

The evening banquet was hosted by the Goldsboro Community Relations Department in partnership with the Goldsboro Community Affairs Commission, Mayor's Youth Council and Wayne County.

"Tonight, we have seen just how big of a role unity plays in our community," said Morgan Yelverton, Mayor's Youth Council co-chairwoman. "As we serve our community together, build our community together and mold our community together, we can easily see the power of the word 'together.'

"Nothing is achievable without our community coming together to be more, do more and see more in this great city of Goldsboro."