J.C. Price Legion brings Christmas to children early

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 19, 2011

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — Devin Stafford is 12 years old and lives in the neighborhood near the JC Price American Legion Post on Old Wilkesboro Road. He has been to other celebrations for kids before and knew that the Children’s Christmas Party would be fun.
“I have been looking forward to the party,” he said. “It is pretty cool. It makes me want to do something nice for others.”
That is just what a group of American Legion members have committed to do. Post Commander Mae Carroll said that the JC Price Post has won 23 awards over the years for its community projects, doing something nice for others. In recent years, four celebrations have been planned annually for local kids. The JC Price Post has an Easter event coming up next and then a Labor Day outing followed by a Crime Prevention Halloween event.
The JC Price American Legion Post was built in 1953, and in 1956 Legionnaires started a yearly Christmas Party for both adults and kids. Eventually the kids’ party was made a separate event.
Prior to building, early meetings were usually in homes, beginning on June 21, 1921.
The J C Price American Legion Post was named for Joseph Charles Price, an early president of Livingstone College. The Post currently has about 300 members from Salisbury, Kannapolis, Statesville, Lexington and surrounding areas.
On Saturday evening, neighborhood kids arrived to a welcome from Commander Carroll. They then settled in to hear Dr. Patricia Trueblood, who calls herself “Grandma Honey.” Dr.Trueblood is a renowned storyteller, and amazed the children with her captivating style.
Commander Carroll then heightened the excitement within the room when she said, “Have all the kids here been good all year? Raise your hands if you have!”
She then hinted that Santa just might be in the area, and soon the familiar Elvis tune, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” suggested an imminent arrival. Sure enough, the jolly man himself soon carried his bag of goodies into the room.
A toy giveaway provided by the Legionnaires proceeded until every child in the room received a nice gift. Homer Robertson, Veteran of the Year for the JC Price Post, and his grandson, Ahmad Cruse, waited patiently until Ahmad’s name was called. Ahmad got a new basketball and couldn’t wait to try it out.
ROTC members from North Rowan and Salisbury High Schools regularly help with American Legion projects, and performed various tasks including final preparation of the meal.
“It is great to be active in the community, especially helping the kids,” Joy Gonzalez said.
Cedrick Spencer added, “It just warms my heart to see the smiling faces and everyone happy in the Christmas season.”
Parent Tamara Buchanan said, “I think it is awesome that the JC Price Post members work so hard to pull this together. This is such a thoughtful way to have the community celebrate Christmas.”
Rashon Alexander, a 6-year-old pre-school student at Isenberg said, “Santa gave me a football. I’ve had a good time already, but I am probably still going to eat another hot dog.”
Chairman of the JC Price Children and Youth Committee Leonard Hall was glad the kids and their families could sing Christmas carols together and then receive a goody bag of fruit and candy as part of the evening.
“We look forward to these events all year,” he said. “The neighbor kids get a good meal and some gifts, and we all have a good time. Many of them come from apartments locally.”
Post Commander Carroll summed it all up by saying, “I appreciate the ROTC and the Legionnaires for all of their work. We try to bring the kids here for a good time. What is most special to me is the knowledge that lots of these children won’t have a big Christmas, but tonight we all came together, and I look around the room and see nothing but smiles. It is all done in the true spirit of Christmas.”