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Christmas Happiness: “Senter girls” give in honor of respected doctor

Every other month a group of women who go by the moniker “the Senter girls” have been meeting for lunch since 2006 and exchanging Christmas gifts at holidays. The women range in age from 30 to 80 all worked for Dr. R. Gordon Senter who owned and operated Oak Hollow Rheumatology before his retirement eight years ago.

The well-respected doctor died a year ago around this time and the women have given $170 to the Christmas Happiness Fund in his memory.

There are just 31 more days until Christmas and that’s 31 more days to make a difference in the lives of children in Rowan County. The Fund provides a voucher that is given to families in need who can use that voucher to buy Christmas presents for their children. Eligible families are given $30 per child.

The Christmas Happiness Fund was the idea of then Post editor Spencer Murphy who in 1952 urged the people of Rowan County to give so that a child might have a new toy at the holidays. The Fund has continued and last year the donated  $49,627.52 in contributions that were given right up to the day before Christmas.

In the past, the Rowan County Department of Social Services issued the vouchers, but the program became a lot for the staff, who were also maintaining their regular workloads. Applications for the program were taken earlier this month through the resurrected Christmas Bureau, and will be taken again, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Hurley YMCA. The Christmas Bureau is made up of the Christmas Happiness Fund, Salvation Army of Rowan County, Toys for Tots, Operation Santa, Project Santa and the United Way.

The Salisbury Post collects the donations and the Salvation Army distributes the vouchers.

Carol Palmer, who worked in Senter’s office as a receptionist, said the Senter girls remember their beloved employer as an extraordinary physician and a special person.

“We are grateful for the sense of family he cultivated among his office staff. We appreciate all he gave to this community,” she said.

Even after Senter retired he continued to care for people through the Community Care Clinic, the Rowan County Aids Task Force and other nonprofits, Palmer said.

The women gave last year after Senter died and one of them had the idea to continue giving so they all chipped in to contribute.

“We used to give to each other in a secret Santa and thought let’s give to a worthwhile cause,” Palmer said.

In other contributions:

Henkel $1,250

Salisbury Lion’s Club  $100

In memory of Jerry, Ora and Raymond Peck by Florence Peck  $100
In memory of Dr. R. Gordon Senter from his Oak Hollow Employees  $170
Total $1,620

Bring contributions to the Salisbury Post, 131 W. Innes St., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or mail them to The Salisbury Post Christmas Happiness Fund, P.O. Box 4639, Salisbury, N.C. 28145-4639. Make checks payable to the Christmas Happiness Fund and indicate how you want your donation listed.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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