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Darts and Laurels (12-20-14)

big wreath full of laurels to everyone who has given money and volunteered time so that many local families wouldn’t have to go without this Christmas. On Thursday, several of the organizations that administer programs — the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and Christmas Happiness Fund, all part of the community’s Christmas Bureau — held the first distribution at Life Church. Families received toys, clothing and other gifts for their children or gift cards to buy presents. Qiania Igus, who is unemployed and has two children, called the community effort “a godsend. I just simply wouldn’t have been able to do it.” The need was apparent, as the distribution began at 8 a.m. and stretched into the evening, and was expected to continue Friday. Families didn’t receive only money. Food Lion donated gift cards to be given out, and Second Harvest Food Bank provided groceries. And beyond the agencies’ distribution, churches have adopted families for Christmas. Of course, the givers benefit, too, as Clifton Thomas and his three adult daughters, who helped distribute gifts on Thursday, know. “It feels good,” Clifton said. “… It’s important a child wakes up with something under the tree.”

•  •  •

Laurels to Walt and Kim Kincaid, who have for decades delivered joy to children and adults at Christmastime. Walt, blessed with the look of Father Christmas, has been playing Santa Claus for 25 years, while Kim started out as an elf and for the past 12 years has been portraying Mrs. Claus. The Kincaids perform at a wide range of venues, but the impact they have was probably most apparent this week at the Harold B. Jarrett American Legion Post’s annual Christmas party for disabled children from local elementary schools.  The children were delighted when Santa and Mrs. Claus appeared to hand out gifts purchased by members of the American Legion post. That’s the main reason, Walt said, he keeps doing this. “I love working with kids,” he said. It’s also an expression of the Kincaids’ own gratitude. Walt is a cancer survivor who also had double-bypass heart surgery. And they don’t plan to stop. That is a gift in itself. Read about the Kincaids in Sunday’s People section.

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