Livingstone College to provide dinner, toys to area families

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Bible says it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
On Sunday, Bishop George E. Battle, Jr., Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. and Livingstone College faculty, staff and students will demonstrate that by providing a Christmas dinner and toys to about 25 Salisbury-area families.
Battle is the Senior Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Chairman of Livingstone’s Board of Trustees. Jenkins is Livingstone’s President. Both men have enjoyed successful careers that have taken them from their North Carolina hometowns of Rocky Mount and Selma, respectively, to places they probably didn’t dream of as young men. So on Sunday, they want to help get the Christmas season off to a bright start for some people who may not be as fortunate as they are.
“Livingstone College is part of the Salisbury community, and we wanted to give back to the citizens of Salisbury because of the many, many blessings God has bestowed upon us,” said Battle, a proud member of the “One of a Kind” class of 1969. “We particularly wanted to be a blessing to people who may be struggling a bit during this holiday season.”
Jenkins, who often quotes Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given much is required,” agreed.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and forget that not everyone is as fortunate as you are,” Jenkins said. “But it’s imperative we never forget the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. To that end, I’m very grateful Livingstone College is able to provide a Christmas meal and toys for some families that were identified to us by local human service agencies, and I’m glad the college’s faculty, staff and students are behind this effort.”
The Christmas dinner is being served in the college’s Events and Hospitality Center, which will be set up like a restaurant. Rebecca Pendergrass, a student in Livingstone’s culinary arts certificate program and a line cook at The Country Club of Salisbury, is serving as guest chef for the event, which is being managed by Vivian Ray, a seasoned veteran in the hospitality industry and director of the school’s program.
Though they’ll be in a makeshift restaurant on Sunday, restaurants are nothing new to Battle or Jenkins. Battle used to clean the floors and bathrooms and wash the walls at Mrs. George’s Restaurant in Rocky Mount, “where a lot of the members of the upper-class business community ate for lunch and dinner.” Jenkins worked as a waiter years ago at The Tidewater Inn on Maryland’s eastern shore.
Both men said they consider it an honor to be able to serve food to the college’s guests on Sunday. And they’re also excited about the scholarships that will be given to two lucky recipients during the dinner, enabling them to obtain a culinary arts certificate at the college.
Given the cooking talents of Ray and Pendergrass, who won a scholarship last year to enroll in Livingstone’s culinary arts program, chances are the food will be scrumptious. And of course the scholarship winners will be delighted to hear their names called out.
But the highlight of the dinner will likely be when Santa makes his appearance.
“No Christmas dinner would be complete without St. Nick,” Jenkins said. “In addition to providing a hot, hearty meal for our guests, I’m delighted we’ll be able to give toys to the children.”
After the dinner, which is for invited guests only, the college is performing “Miracle on Monroe Street,” a Christmas extravaganza that’s guaranteed to dazzle those in attendance. Several members of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra will be on hand to lend their expertise, opera singer and associate professor of voice Teresa Moore-Mitchell will wow the crowd with her musical genius, Livingstone’s concert choir, gospel choir, band and theater students will perform, and there will be a live nativity scene on stage.
The concert is open to the public. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and for children 12 and under and free for Livingstone students with valid ID.
After the concert, the college will hold its annual tree lighting ceremony. And for only $3, patrons can purchase one of the bulbs that will adorn the tree and have their name or the name of a loved one put on them.
“When people think of Livingstone they think of Salisbury, but I hope people from Charlotte and other neighboring cities will attend the Christmas concert this weekend because it’s really going to be something special,” Battle said. “Dr. Jenkins and his staff have done a yeoman’s job organizing this concert, and I hope their efforts will be rewarded by a large turnout.
“After Sunday there will be only 17 days left before Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ,” Battle continued. “I can’t think of a better way for people to get in the Christmas spirit than to attend the concert. After I help serve the college’s special guests, I’m going to eagerly take my seat because I expect to be highly entertained by what I’m confident is going to be the Christmas concert to end all Christmas concerts.”