The magic of the Christmas season came alive a couple Sundays back when N.C. Highway Patrol troopers from Sampson took youngsters from across our county on a special holiday shopping spree, courtesy of money raised through the local law enforcement’s annual golf tournament.
Though cliche, it’s true — that morning of Christmas giving was indeed what makes the holiday special. It’s actually what embodies the true meaning of the season, and we thank the troopers and their families — and those they helped — for reminding us all of the importance of helping others.
It wasn’t just the gift-giving, either, though that was special in its own way. It was the giver and the receiver that made this event unique, a true humbling experience for all those involved.
Just a little history. Since 1998, troopers have been using a portion of proceeds collected from their annual golf tournament to provide gifts to children across Sampson County who, otherwise, might have little to nothing under their trees come Christmas morning. This year, 20 children, ranging in age from 16 months to 12, were chosen to participate in the shopping extravaganza, with each designated a dollar amount they could spend on everything from clothes and accessories to toys.
Troopers don’t just buy gifts and provide them to selected families, they actively participate in the shopping spree, walking side-by-side with youngsters as they maneuver the aisles of Wal-Mart in search of things they need, like coats and belts, shirts, shoes and pants, and desire, like those longed-for special toys.
It’s the light in their eyes — the youngsters, the parents and the troopers, themselves — that make this annual holiday event such a special Christmas gift to those fortunate enough to watch it unfold.
The Grinches of the world, perhaps, see this as just another give-away, but it’s far from that.
All it takes is listening to the humble words of appreciative parents to know that this event is, indeed, Christmas magic.
Hear their words:
“There’s no doubt about it, this is a holiday miracle.” - Parent Shirley Johnson, who, along with her family, was burned out of her home last year. She called what the Patrol does a “real Christmas blessing.”
“It’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for us. I don’t even know how to thank them.” - Amanda Rose, parent of three children ages 7, 10 and 12.
“It’s magic.” - 7-year-old Ni-Shawn Johnson.
“I’ve heard of this type of program where people who can’t afford Christmas are helped, but I didn’t think my kids would be a part … that we are is really something special. It’s a true blessing.” - Parent Ashley Kitchen.
Powerful words spoken about a powerful program that does great good within our community.
Troopers are to be commended for the work they do to keep our roadways safe, but they are to be cherished for the above-the-call-of-duty giving they offer to Sampson residents, through both the Christmas gift program and the $1,000 scholarships they provide to high school seniors each year.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Bryan Smith said troopers hoped that their civic service within the community provides a different face, showing youngsters and adults alike a different side to officers often seen only when they are delivering bad news.
Without question, the Christmas gift program provides that face, a face that shows great love and compassion throughout the year.