Riding With Santa
For many children around the world, nothing beats the excitement of Christmas morning. Waking up with a bundle of nervous energy, wiping the sleep from their eyes, many kids emerge from their bedrooms hoping Santa paid their house a visit during the night. Still in pajamas, they make their way to the room where the family Christmas tree sits, adorned with beautiful lights, ornaments and twinkling stars. Then they see the presents. Some trees may host many, many gifts, while others may hover over just a couple. In any case, these are the lucky children, the ones where Santa paid a visit.
Not all kids have the same good fortune to receive a present. Maybe it was a hard year at home and the family finances are low, where parents didn’t have extra funds even for a simple gift. Other times, the children may have an illness that keeps them from sleeping in their own bed. In those cases, the kids often have an extended stay at a hospital and don’t get the excitement of waking up in their own cozy bed on Christmas morning.
This is where the local community in Chapin, S.C., really steps up and shows what it means to care. Each year, the folks in Chapin, led by Boland’s Ace Hardware and the Newberry Boys Farm, organize a toy drive for many children in the area who wouldn’t otherwise have a merry Christmas.
The day begins at Boland’s Ace, where manager Leigh Ann, owner Eric Boland, the town’s mayor and the many volunteers load up a vintage 1940s fire truck with an array of toys. There’s laughter, camaraderie and hope in the air as all the folks understand the joy these gifts will bring to so many needy children. Then the event truly kicks off as a team of folks on motorcycles and in classic cars lead a parade from Boland’s Ace for nearly 20 miles to the Newberry Shrine Club. Here, tables get filled and stacked with an array of unwrapped toys for the kids: teddy bears of all sizes; footballs, basketballs and soccer balls; dolls and princesses; coloring and reading books; board games, checker sets, Lego sets; bikes, trucks, instruments and so much more.
Then the children get to come in and select their toys amidst giant smiles and shrieks of pure golden happiness. This scene is a reminder of what the holidays truly stand for: We come together to help our community, give from our heart, make sure everyone is taken care of and loved.
It reminds us that no matter if you’re rich or poor; young or old; healthy or ill; at home or in a hospital, every child deserves to experience the magic of Christmas.