Henderson’s helping hands

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 06:56 PM

On the Friday before Christmas, Vance County was in the spirit of giving.

Around town the heartwarming message of “better to give than to receive” was spread as hundreds in need received gifts and warm meals.

At the Vance County Department of Social Services a truckload of toys and food showed up to deliver gifts graciously donated by the employees of the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Jacqueline Parrish founded Extend a Hand 22 years ago at the VA Center. She was on site Friday helping to unload gifts and food.

“We’ve been delivering to Vance County about 17 of the 22 years,” Parrish said. “The county sends us names and we adopt those children out to the employees.”

Toys for Tots also provided Vance County DSS with enough toys for 300 children, allowing them to serve a total of 462 children this Christmas.

Picking up a brand new bicycle for the nephew she takes care of Friday afternoon was Krystal Martin, a Vance County resident.

Her eyes filled with tears as she loaded the bike into the back of her car.

“He’s going to love it because he wanted one of those bikes,” Martin said. “I couldn’t get one.

“It takes a lot for people to go out of their way,” Martin said. “To buy bikes and stuff like that, it’s just very thoughtful.

“We’re very grateful. I know he’s going to love it. He’s not going to believe he got that.”

At Perry Memorial Library, Franklin-Granville-Vance Smart Start spread Christmas cheer, and a bit of helpful advice to adolescent parents.

Attendees were provided with a Chick-fil-A breakfast, followed by a presentation informing parents on early literacy.

Funding from PNC Bank made the program and educational forum possible, and also provided parents with $60 Walmart gift cards.

A table full of donated gifts, including diapers, baby powder, toys, Columbia jackets, and other useful items, were raffled off.

Nearly 200 people gathered at Area Christians Together in Service to share a meal and receive a hand-wrapped gift from Santa Claus.

“I was here all night rapping them,” said Twanna Jones, executive director of ACTS. “There’s just something about unwrapping a gift. I remember when I was young and my parents would be so excited to watch me unwrap. I had more interest in the paper and ribbons than the gift.

“That’s what we wanted these kids to experience.”

There was no shortage of giving on Friday. With generosity coming from so many in Vance County, fewer will have to do without this Christmas.

“This community has rallied in such a way that I’m ecstatic,” said Linda Fry, director of Vance County DSS. “I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve seen few communities come together the way Vance County has.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.