J.C. Price Legion Post gives area kids Christmas cheer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The annual Christmas party for community children at the J. C. Price American Legion Post #107 is such a tradition that it spans generations.
As kids stood in line, waiting for their turn to talk to Santa, Marc Verley said a girl came up to him and pointed out her mother in the crowd.
“I used to teach Head Start,” Verley said. “The girl’s mama had been one of my students.”
About 250 kids and adults enjoyed free hot dogs, gift bags and a raffle at the annual Christmas celebration, held Monday at the Post #107 hall on Old Wilkesboro Road.
Over 300 hot dogs were served, and each child received a gift bag with treats.
For Verley and his aunt, Kathryn Wiggins, the evening was extra special.
They donated gifts, including six bicycles and helmets, in memory of Verley’s mother, the late Dr. Arletta Massey-Verley.
“It’s a beautiful celebration,” Verley said.
Wiggins praised the work of the American Legion post in the community.
“Every holiday that’s celebrated, this post does something where children are concerned,” Wiggins said.
For the children, the big focus was on Santa Claus, who got applause when he came through the door.
Kids were given raffle tickets for gifts, and proceeded back one by one as their numbers were called.
Nazaahah Alahim, 5, told Santa Claus she wanted a Jeep, “with a set of keys and a CD changer!” said her grandmother, Sara Jordan.
“Can you believe that?” Jordan said, motioning over to her husband, Cleo Jordan, Nazaahah’s grandfather. “Paw Paw might get it for her, but I can’t!”
The gift Alahim got during the prize drawing was enough to make her smile, even though she didn’t unwrap it then and there.
Rahime Rankin’s wrapped present wasn’t the dirt bike he’d told his father he wanted.
But it was more than enough to get a smile from Rahime, 3.
“It feels good,” said Roger Rankin, as his son stood by. “A lot of kids who come out here don’t have anything, and people volunteer to make them happy at the holidays.”
Leonard Hall, one of the organizers of the event, said any families in the area are welcome, not just those in need.
“We send flyers to churches in the community, and advertise at subdivisions and apartment complexes,” Hall said.
The main purpose, Hall said, is to provide “a safe place to gather,” and a celebration for kids and families together.
Post Commander Ollie Mae Carroll said the J. C. Price American Legion Post had been holding the Christmas gathering for more than 30 years, perhaps even longer.
Sergeant-at-Arms Daniel Haddock said there were “probably some great-grandbabies” whose great-grandparents had come to the Legion post for gifts at one time.
“I’m hoping they take away a memory, and that somebody wants them to have a merry Christmas,” Haddock said.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.