12/10/17 — 2017 Empty Stocking Fund party spreads holiday cheer

View Archive

2017 Empty Stocking Fund party spreads holiday cheer

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on December 10, 2017 3:05 AM

Full Size


Kayden Green, 3, shows his giant C3PO to Santa Saturday during the Empty Stocking Fund Party at Goldsboro High School while his sister Jaelyn Holmes, 9, talks to Mrs. Claus.

Kayden Green totes around a toy nearly his own size in Goldsboro High School's library Saturday morning.

The 3-year-old has just picked out a C-3PO replica from Star Wars.

His smile is even bigger than the toy, stretching from ear to ear as he looks over the toy's parts while the bottom of the package tap-tap-taps off his feet as he walks.

His mother, Angela Bennett, has her boy's joy reflected in her own smile.

Bennett wasn't sure what she would do for Christmas this year.

For the first time in 20 years, she finds herself starting from scratch and trying to build a life all over again on her own with her son and her daughter, 9-year-old Jaelyn Holmes, by her side.

"We just moved into low-income housing again," Bennett said. "It's been really tough, I didn't know what I was going to do."

But her worries were quelled at the 105th Empty Stocking Fund event at Goldsboro High School Saturday.

Nobody was on Santa's naughty list as the party got underway with A Drummer's World drum line.

Tired, sleepy eyes -- being out in the cold rain before 9 a.m. on a weekend can be daunting -- quickly turned to bright gazes flashing from snare to tom to bass drum as the crew lit up the crowd with an explosive performance to kick off the day.

Bennett's children were among about 450 students who zipped through the school's library to choose a toy to take home, with the selection ranging from dolls, to art kits, to action figures to Nerf guns and more.

Nardaron Cox, 10, recently flew his drone into a tree.

Cox said he loves flying them and watching the way they float and bob and zip across the sky, and was not happy when his last drone got stuck in a tree.

But no matter. The miracle-makers of the North Pole were on hand to provide him with another, as Cox took home a brand new drone to fly around -- and away from trees.

His brother, Nadareon, 9, picked out a red sports car toy.

After the children were guided through the labyrinth of toys by volunteers from the Spring Creek Future Farmers of America and Eastern Wayne High School's National Honor Society, they got to take a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus and take home a print out of the photo for their parents and guardians.

The children who came Saturday were also gifted clothes purchased from J.C. Penney and Belk, and took home goodie bags curated and put together by Bobby Braswell's family, who provided the fruit and other treats for the bag.

Wayne County teachers selected the students who received holiday cheer in the form of clothes, toys and other goodies.

The News-Argus asked for the community to help the children in need, and the community responded with overwhelming amounts of donations that made the event possible.

Families filled the auditorium of Goldsboro High School from wall to wall as they waited to be called back to receive their gifts and enjoyed a morning packed full of entertainment.

The event was emceed by News-Argus editor John Joyce, who introduced each act.

After A Drummer's World drum line, a dance group from Studio 33 graced the stage with a series of performances.

The News-Argus' own Crystal Bizzell took the stage and sang "Hallelujah" before leading children and the crowd in singing a number of Christmas carols.

The Tiger Command Chorus, Dillard Middle School's choral group, went on stage and performed before jazz musician Eric Dawson, known to many locally from the former PNC Jazz Showcase's several years of downtown Goldsboro performances rounded out the morning's entertainment.

Also on hand were members of the Goldsboro Fired Department and Goldsboro Police Department Explorer posts and some from Girl Scout Troop 4397, based out of Goldsboro.

Miss Goldsboro 2018, Bailey Stamper shared a few words of welcome and then stuck around for photos with the children inside Santa's workshop in the GHS media center.

The day was the result of a combined community effort to give children in Goldsboro the Christmas that every child deserves, but not every child is fortunate enough to have.

"This is a lot of moving parts all coming together at once," Joyce said. "As hectic as that might be, it's for the best possible cause."