Santa comes early
The idea that had been ringing in the ears of Sara Harper for 15 to 20 years finally became a festive holiday reality for 100 children Saturday afternoon.
The inaugural Jingle Bell Ball lifted the spirits of boys and girls from across the area, as they received presents and a meal through the contributions and donations of a cross-section of the community. The ball, spearheaded by the agency KinGap Services, provided a pre-Christmas Day celebration for children who are being raised by their grandparents or relatives other than their mothers or fathers.
Harper, the community outreach coordinator for KinGap Services, said she tucked away the concept for the Jingle Bell Ball after hearing about the celebration in a community of a neighboring state. Saturday’s celebration, held in the ballroom of the High Point Country Club, came about because of the hard work and generosity of dozens of sponsors, donors and volunteers.
“I hope to make this an annual event,” said Harper as she surveyed the ballroom full of smiling and laughing children, patiently but anxiously awaiting their chance to receive gifts.
A table of toys lined two walls of the ballroom as volunteers wearing red-and-white Christmas caps waited to pass out presents to the children.
Marian Lee of Greensboro brought her 9-year-old grandson, Tyleek, to the Jingle Bell Ball. He paused briefly at the door to the ballroom, mesmerized by the moment.
“I think this is a wonderful thing for the children,” Lee said. “We can use all the help we can get.”
Organizers of the Jingle Bell Ball raised money through letter-writing and requesting assistance from individuals, family and friends, Harper said.
“One church in our community had the area’s first jingle bell tree where members took jingle bells off the tree to purchase items on the children’s wish list. Another church took up a special donation to assist with the event,” she said. “A businessman donated a parking lot during the market for us to raise funds. Anonymous donations have poured in.”
Program emcee Hector McEachern said after a somber week in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the Jingle Bell Ball offered a refreshing reminder of what makes Christmas special. Indeed, celebrations such as this one reflect the spirit expressed through a line of a song by performer Bruce Cockburn, that sometimes you must “kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight.”
“Once hope is gone, there is nothing else,” Harper said. “But with hope, faith, all things are possible.”
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To contribute to the expense of the Jingle Bell Ball through KinGap Services of North Carolina, contact the agency at its office, 614 N. Hamilton St., High Point, N.C. 27262, by phone at 882-5440 or through the website www.kingapnc.org