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A8 DECEMBER 20, 2018

From left: Ethel Brown, SandraKay Crump, Leanna Lee, and Geneva Herbert, all volunteers from AARP, take a break from wrapping gifts during Gift Mart on Dec. 15.

Gift wrap close up is shown.

Photos by Judie Holcomb-Pack

Volunteers help hundreds have a Merry Christmas BY JUDIE HOLCOMB-PACK FOR THE CHRONICLE

What does it take to wrap over 2,500 Christmas presents in an eight-hour period? Volunteers … lots and lots of volunteers. The local AARP chapter pitched in to wrap presents as part of it’s community outreach program, helping families who came to the Gift Mart, on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Benton Convention Center. It’s part of Love Out Loud’s Christmas for the City. The group does several outreach projects during the year, such as collecting school supplies for the Educator Warehouse and collecting personal care items for Senior Services. This is the first time they have volunteered to wrap gifts for the Gift Mart, and they came decked out in their favorite holiday sweaters, Santa hats and jingle bell jewelry. St. Anne’s Episcopal Church also participated, both by donating nearly 300 gifts for the Gift Mart and having a cadre of volunteers to wrap gifts. Not only is it a great opportunity to serve outside the church, but it is also a time for members to get to know each other better as they work together. The Gift Mart is a preevent for Christmas for the City and works with families who have been referred from social workers, nonprofit agencies and schools to provide a wide selection of donated items for the families to choose from. Items are priced from a few cents up to about $5 for the most expensive (and popular) items – bicycles. By having parents pay a small amount for the items they choose, it makes the process more dignified and allows them to feel a part of the shopping experience. This is the fourth year that the Gift Mart has been offered to help low-income and struggling families to provide Christmas gifts for their children. Each year the event has grown and this year, 203 families, including 615 children, were served. An estimated over 2,500 gifts were wrapped by nearly 50 volunteer wrappers. As shop-

pers completed their purchases, they moved to a gift wrap table, where gifts were boxed, bagged, wrapped, and bowed. It was like Santa’s workshop on steroids (which in this instance was candy kisses that were passed out every so often to keep the wrappers spirits – and energy – up). Some gifts, like books or items in boxes, were easy to wrap; others required quite a creative team effort. But the smiles on the faces of the parents when they saw all their presents wrapped and ready to go under the tree made it all worthwhile. Over and over the gift wrappers heard the words, “Thank you,” “I don’t know what I would have done without this help this year,” “You are wonderful,” “God bless each and every one of you.” Despite lines and long waits for the gift wrapping service, everyone was patient and appreciative. Christmas for the City has been around for 11 years through the collaboration of local churches, nonprofits, organizations and businesses to host a free evening of family-oriented activities for the community at the Benton Convention Center. Christmas for the City is sponsored by Love Out Loud, a year-round collaborative that connects and mobilizes people and resources to release the radical love of Jesus in our city. Christie Williams, one of the Gift Mart coordinators, remarked, “Gift Mart is uniting us in a circle of giving that gives parents in tight financial times support to bring Christmas to their home and personally getting to select their gifts and have them wrapped while kids are cared for and Santa is ready for the picture.” Gifts that were not purchased during Gift Mart were shared with other needy organizations. Some went to New Bern for the flood victims and others went to Bethesda Center for the Homeless in Winston-Salem, El Buen ,Pastor Kids Xtreme and other local organizations. One young man

Want to go?

Christmas for the City is today, Thursday, Dec. 20 at 4-9 p.m. at the Benton Convention Center, 301 W. Fifth Street at Cherry Street, Downtown Winston-Salem. Admission is free. Activities include: *Vocal, instrumental, drama and dance performances will occur within 10 performance spaces throughout the Benton Convention Center. Styles include gospel, contemporary Christian, hiphop, reggaeton, Latin music and even a choir of Congolese refugees singing in Swahili. *The North Pole Village, located downstairs in Piedmont 1 - 3, will provide hands-on activities for children, including woodworking, cookie decorating, and hot chocolate – along with a wide variety of interactive experiences for the whole family, all planned and sponsored by local churches and nonprofit organizations. *The Table invites people from across the city to share a simple meal together, made possible by donations from local restaurants. *Extensive drama and dance performances on the new Community Stage (in Winston 2). There will also be a Student Selfie Scavenger Hunt for middle and high school students with prizes. *And the Pathways Gallery will highlight the work of 12 nonprofits, in addition to the 50+ involved throughout the building.

accompanied his mother and she said she had to bring him and now he saw everything he was getting for Christmas. The gift wrapper asked him,” Did you see the movie ‘Men in Black’? Remember how they used a flash to wipe

away people’s memories? Well, I’m doing that to you. When I wave my hand, you will not remember anything that you just saw until you open it on Christmas!” He and his mother laughed and he agreed he would forget

what he was getting for Christmas. At the end of the day as the volunteers took a few minutes to rest before gathering up the remnants of a successful giftwrapping experience, there were smiles and hugs

among old friends and new ones as they related stories from their shift. All agreed, they felt tired, happy and very blessed to be able to serve in this special way.


Our care has always set us apar t. And noow w, our name does too. For 40 years, Hospice & Palliative CareCenter has provided compassionate care to patients and families throughout the region. i Now we are proud d tto introduce d our neew w nname: Trreellis lli Supporttive Care – reepresenting the frameewor workk of ssupport, care, and guidance we provid vide. W Wee’re still ill the h same nonprofit, mission-drriven organization yoou’ve trusted u for decades, and w wee’ll be here for generations to come. ome. TrellisSupport.org 336-768-3972

L nda Darden Lind President esid & CEO EO

Profile for The Chronicle of Winston-Salem

December 20, 2018  

December 20, 2018