Salvation Army and United Way give back

Staff Writer

It was a busy two days at the Hickory Legion Fairgrounds on Monday and Tuesday.

Parents and guardians came to pick up gifts to help children’s wishes come true. This year, along with clothing and toys, there were also books, puzzles, gift baskets, and other items for them to choose from.

John Bailey, director of community impact for the United Way, said they helped over 580 families this year. “It’s a good reminder of what the holidays are all about,” he said. “It’s time to think of others instead of yourself.”

Bailey said the Salvation Army helped get everything together for the annual event. “The Salvation Army spearheaded this, so we’re very thankful to them,” he said.

Around 100 volunteers from the United Way, Salvation Army, the Hickory Soup Kitchen, and the Hickory Fire Department came out to help parents get items that they just couldn’t afford.

Major Rebecca Trayler, with the Salvation Army, said she’s grateful for all the community support. “We’re very grateful for the support of the community,” she said. “We can’t do it without their donations.”

She said they did things a little differently this year to insure that every child got gifts they wanted.

“We did do it different this year,” Trayler said. “Every child was shopped for prior to the event to make it consistent for all the children. Obviously you can’t hit every single thing, but we do use that for our guide.”

Martha Hoover, her husband, Richard, and her sister, Vickie Scott all came to volunteer. Martha, a retired school secretary, said she decided to volunteer after serving 30 years in the school system at Grandview Middle School. Christmas is her favorite time of year, and she wants to make it special for others including her four grandchildren.

“I was one of seven kids,” Martha said. “My mama always started Thanksgiving night to put the tree up and get ready for Christmas.” Martha said that after suffering three strokes, she’s grateful to be alive and carry on the tradition with her grandchildren.

“My mama made it wonderful for us,” she said. “If nothing else, I’m going to make Christmas wonderful for everyone too.”

Fred Kirby Jr., 73, also enjoys volunteering. He’s been doing so between 10 and 15 years after he saw an ad in the newspaper.

“I got started umpteen years ago,” he said. “Since I retired, I got hauled up doing this, because humanity is the best service to life.”

Kirby enjoys seeing the familiar faces year after year. “I may not know their names, but I know their faces,” he smiled.