LAURINBURG — Members of the Scotland County branch of the NAACP served as Santa’s helpers as they handed out toys including, dolls, games and bicycles during Saturday’s Winter Wonderland event. The annual event was held at I. Ellis Johnson to offer donated toys to families that are less fortunate.
“The event is going great, we’ve had great participation so far with this cool morning and with all the other events going on,” said Scotland NAACP President Herman Tyson. “We’re glad to be here on the north side of town so we’re able to distribute to this area.”
More than 100 children took part in the event that included door prizes, Christmas carols and hot dogs and drinks.
“Participation has been great we probably had 100 or so kids here so far,” Tyson said midway through the event. “We’re seeing kids from three to 14-years-old.”
Several of the participants said they were hoping to win one of about 12 bicycles awarded during Saturday’s raffle drawing.
One of the winners was Qua,daizia McLean a sixth-grader at Carver Middle School.
“I’m excited about my bike and I’m excited about Christmas,” said Qua,daizia as he posed with his brand new 16-inch black red boys bike donated by a NAACP member.
Members of the Blue Blazer Club at Carver Middle School also helped the NAACP throughout the morning by handing out toys and cans of soup and juice.
“Today’s event is about giving back to the community,” said Hashan Tyson, a teacher at Carver who works with the club. “The Blue Blazers dress up once a week at Carver Middle School to promote leadership and we thought we’d take that leadership outside of the school building to raise awareness.”
The club is for eighth-grade students looking to promote good behavior and higher education.
“They came out and volunteered time during their December break, so I think that’s a great thing for the kids and the community,” Tyson said. “We’re grateful for the blessings that we have.”
The community seemed appreciative of the help.
“There are a lot of children that are not as fortunate and they look forward to this every year,” said Willier Campbell, mother of six. “Being a single parent, we look forward to it every year and we try to do some canned drives to give back to the community as well.”
The gifts and donations make this time of year easier for families, she explained.
“They enjoy Christmas every year and I love to come out here and mingle with others,” Campbell said. “It’s a big help because a lot of parents out there, they are struggling and we have high crime rates and a lack of jobs.”
Campbell said that a lot of parents are trying to make ends meet and events like this are “a Christmas miracle.”
“It takes a little bit of pressure off the parents because they want their kids to have something for Christmas and they can’t afford it, which kind of brings depression on the family ,” she said. “This is one of the most miraculous ideas and you see the joy on the children’s faces when they get a gift — that’s reward enough for us.”
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.