SALEMBURG — In a couple of days, needy children throughout Sampson County will smile with glee when they wake up on Christmas morning, thanks to the Holiday Hope program.
This season, the local organization collected close to 3,000 gifts for youths in the area. All donations were sent to the Sampson County Department of Social Services (DSS).
Now in its third year, the annual toy drive was created by Lynn Pritchard, wife of Curt Pritchard, golf pro at the Lakewood Country Club. During the season, members of the community are asked to donate unwrapped gifts.
“To me, it was a magical experience and each year, it gets better and better,” Curt said. “It was heart-warming, touching and once again, the kids of Sampson County are going to win 100 percent.”
To show the success, a celebration is held in early December each year. The Pritchard family takes pride in knowing that all of those toys will remain in Sampson County.
Some of the gifts included bicycles, skateboards, basketballs and dolls.
“It was a all over the board and covered all age ranges,” Pritchard said while expressing his excitement. “I even saw a toy drone. I didn’t know such as thing existed. The support this year was phenomenal and it was countywide.”
Many community members donated toys for Holiday Hope. A large chunk of toys, about 200, came from Plain View Elementary School students and fall festival pageant winners. The effort was lead by students Brayden Johnson; Zachary Desentz, prince; Ivey Kate Peterson, princess; and Kelsey Fisher, queen. Principal Nicole Peterson applauded the work of the students and community members involved.
“We would like to thank the Fall Festival prince, princess and queen for continuing this tradition as well as the Plain View Elementary families who have supported us in this endeavor for two years,” Peterson stated. “Teaching our children the joy of giving and supporting others in our community may not be a part of our curriculum but it’s a life lesson we hope to teach each child.”
Brandon Strickland, president of Lakewood Country Club’s Board of directors, also appreciated the support.
“Lakewood Country Club is all about the community and holiday hope magnifies the wonderful people that make up this community,” Strickland stated. “It warms my heart that kids will get to feel the Christmas spirit this year. God has blessed us so much and we’re very fortunate to be able to give back to the community.”
After the event, cadets from the Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy helped with loading toys on a truck at the country club. They also assisted with unloading gifts at the DSS office in Clinton.
Along with cadets and students from PVES, Holiday Hope was also thankful for the help and sponsorship from several businesses in the community. The other participants included the North Carolina Highway Patrol; Roseboro’s Food Lion; Roses in Roseboro; Uncle Vinny’s Pizzeria Ristorante; and Horne Brothers Construction.
“It’s tremendously humbling to be involved with an organization like Lakewood Country Club who believes in helping others in the way that they do,” Pritchard said. “It’s unbelievably heartwarming to see what young children can do — thinking about putting others in front of themselves at Christmas time.”
Pritchard added that he couldn’t thank the community enough for the support shown during the toy drive.
“Without the community’s help and our sponsors’ help, this would not be possible to have all of these children so happy on Christmas morning,” Pritchard said. “I’m elated with joy.”