Christmas has reached the Catawba Valley again.
Inside the Christmas weekend edition of The O-N-E, you can read how the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police made Christmas brighter this week for children of all ages at Catawba Valley Medical Center and Frye Regional Medical Center.
You'll also find the story of a golf tournament that incorporated the work and donations of many Hickory Metro organizations that collected gifts and money for needy children.
Before Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Catawba County Fraternal Order of Police entered J.T. Sainâ€™s hospital room on Tuesday night, he hadnâ€™t eaten in hours.
Sain, a 2-year-old boy, had been in Catawba Valley Medical Center for nearly 48 hours with his mother, Kisha, after suffering an asthma attack earlier in the week.
He had refused most food for almost two days.
However, when Mrs. Claus approached his bedside and slid a couple of Hersheyâ€™s Kisses in his tiny hands, he was quick to unpeel a wrapper, pop one in his mouth and enjoy the chocolate.
Area high schoolers learned about the Holocaust from seven different perspectives this week.
Newton-Conover High School (NCHS) held its first annual Holocaust museum on Wednesday. The museum was designed to educate students from seven different curriculum areas, including mathematics, language arts, drama and science.
Students visited the museum throughout the day on Wednesday and viewed exhibits mostly designed by fellow classmates.
In total, about 360 students viewed the museum, said NCHS Librarian Beverly Hall.
Many local organizations take a break this week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, so the schedule of events in Catawba County is light.
However, there are opportunities to see all seven county high schools in action on the basketball court, as well as a Kwanzaa celebration and a New Year's Eve bash in Hickory.
Ridgeview Library in Hickory will offer a Kwanzaa celebration at 6 p.m. in the Ridgeview Recreational Center.
Christmas tournament season kicked off a little early in Claremont on Thursday during the first-ever â€śHoopinâ€™ at the Hillâ€ť junior varsity basketball tournament held at Bunker Hill High School.
In girls competition, it was the Lady Bears advancing to Fridayâ€™s title game with a 35-29 victory against North Wilkes.
Brittany Travis scored 16 points, while Fantasia Umberger, Jasmine Jenkins, Cristy Thao and Kayla Garrett added four points each.
The Lady Bears face West Wilkes, who won a 55-50 overtime thrilller with North Lincoln, in the final.
CHARLOTTE â€” The last time Cam Newton faced the Buccaneers he ran his way into the NFL record books.
This time he'll use his arm to do the same.
The Panthers sensational rookie quarterback needs 18 yards passing Saturday against Tampa Bay to break Peyton Manning's rookie single-season record of 3,739 yards.
But Newton said that record is not as important as closing the season with two wins and helping the Panthers (5-9) carry a load of momentum into next season when their games once again starting counting for something.
2011 was a busy year in Catawba County. Elisa Baker was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for the death of 10-year-old Zahra Baker. Newton voted in its first-ever female mayor. The state forced educators to deal with deep cuts to school budgets.
What was the biggest story of the year in the county? Was it another story not included in our poll?
Check out the choices and vote now at observernewsonline.com, and remember to pick up a Dec. 31 edition of The Observer News Enterprise for a special section of the biggest stories of 2011.
Christmas is two days away in the Hickory Metro, and many organizations are still working to make it a merry holiday season for their neighbors.
Newton-Conover High School, and several other organizations, served a free lunch Thursday to those in need in the community. Several Catawba Valley Community College groups recently collected gifts for the needy, and area businesses donated gifts to children and teens in the Conover area. Read about those stories today in the Friday edition of The Observer News Enterprise.
Also in today's edition and online at observernewsonline.com:
Howard Dale Hamrick, 65, of Lincolnton, died Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 at Palliative CareCenter and Hospice of Catawba Valley in Newton. Burke Mortuary in Newton is serving the Hamrick family.
Ruth Stroud Dellinger Call, 76, of Lenoir, died Dec. 22, 2011, at Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care in Lenoir. Drum Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Hickory is handling arrangements.
Class was not in session at Newton-Conover High School on Thursday, but the cafeteria was open.
Handfuls of students â€” now on Christmas break â€” still showed up to school to feed hundreds of area children and their families. A collaboration of NCHS students, teachers and local volunteers helped feed a steady stream of area citizens on Thursday.
There were no qualifiers to participate; people just showed up to eat.
Rachael Hamm, a sophomore at NCHS, was one of about 50 students who served, entertained and fed the hungry on Thursday.