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Children’s home hosts annual Christmas party

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Five years ago, Gail Davis wanted to find a worthy place to donate her children’s unused toys.
She discovered that and much more when she searched for “orphanage” on the Internet.
Up popped a link to the Church of God Children’s Home on Orphanage Circle in Kannapolis, a home for abused and neglected children started by a gift from Charlie Cannon in 1944.
With one Google search, Davis and her family began a labor of love that grows each year.
Davis and dozens of other volunteers throw an annual Christmas party at the children’s home. This year’s event was the most elaborate yet.
“It was something that happened accidentally,” said Davis, who lives in Charlotte. “Every year it has grown.”
Five years ago, Davis and her daughter Elizabeth, who was 13 years old at the time, drove to the children’s home to donate toys. Elizabeth began talking to some of the kids about Christmas and learned that they received a few generic gifts.
“That made her sad, and she thought it wasn’t fair,” Davis said. “She wanted to throw them a party that was about their Christmas wishes.”
The family began planning. About 40 children lived in the home that year, and Davis asked for a wish list from each child.
“I started asking all of my friends and co-workers to help,” said Davis, who works for Wells Fargo.
People began buying gifts for children they’d never met. At the party, every child received every wish on every list, Davis said.
The word spread.
The next year, Davis’ friend Marty Medlin volunteered to DJ at the event. The following Christmas, friend Walter Blyth offered to portray St. Nick.
“It was the first time that some of these kids have had a Santa,” Davis said.
Each year, something special happens, she said. Children can live at the home until they are 21, and one year a young college student asked for a laptop computer.
Davis called the college to ask which computer to purchase, and the student’s professors ended up buying the laptop for him.
This year, Santa arrived in a hurry.
Accompanied by Station 1 of the Kannapolis Fire Department, Santa came roaring in on Ladder 14, with lights flashing and sirens wailing. Before the party, Santa took a spin around Kannapolis in a Mini Cooper provided by Hendrick MINI, honking and waving from the convertible at surprised pedestrians.
As Santa handed out gifts, the music changed from Christmas songs to the theme from Star Wars.
Suddenly, Storm Troopers appeared and surrounded James Cobb. The day of the party, Dec. 11, happened to be his eighth birthday.
The son of a children’s home staff member, James received an authentic Star Wars light saber from the Carolina Garrison, the North Carolina chapter of an all-volunteer international Star Wars organization.
Later, the Storm Troopers joined Santa in the limbo and the Cupid Shuffle.
Volunteers spent hours organizing the party.
“But the time is worth it when you see those kids’ faces,” said Josh Jennings of Red Dog Productions, which helped put on the event.
The Church of God Children’s Home stands on 228 acres just off I-85, about 12 miles north of Charlotte.
The home started in 1944 when two small girls were brought to the home of Rev. A.V. Childers, according to the home’s Web site.
With no one to care for the girls, Childers turned for help to Charlie Cannon, who owned Cannon Mills in Kannapolis.
When Childers returned a few days later, Cannon handed him a deed to seven acres of land and a farm house. In addition, the Kannapolis Church of God received an offering of $10,000.
Today, most of the children are placed in the home through the Department of Social Services. And thanks to Davis and her daughters, Elizabeth and Angela, their Christmas wishes are coming true.

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