ROCKINGHAM — Tavares Bostic dressed as jolly old Saint Nicholas for the second annual Santa on the Move campaign Friday, with helper elves and fellow members of Brothers Leaning on Another Creating Kings bearing gifts and food for families in need of a little extra help this Christmas.
“There’s going to be a couple of us today that are going to meet in front of the housing authority on Armistead Street,” Bostic said Friday morning before heading out. “We have maybe two or three families in that area. Basically today, we’re going to be giving out gifts and hams. The hams were donated by my good friend Becky Myers who works at Family Video. They donated 20 hams. And during A Turkey on Every Table, they donated 20 turkeys.”
A Turkey on Every Table, BLACK’s second annual Thanksgiving event, enabled the group to serve more families than last year.
“Now, we’ve been able to expand with more connections in the community,” Bostic said. “That’s been a vision of the organization, just being able to expand the reach of the program. And Santa on the Move is growing. I think last year we did something like ten families, and this year we had more than 20 families. What we did was basically went to the families we adopted and to those they referred to us, and we asked them how many kids they had, what they wanted for Christmas.”
He explained that the families selected by BLACK are working people with little or no savings, living paycheck to paycheck and unable to afford extras.
“Some of the families work so hard throughout the year, but by Christmas they sometimes don’t have the finances to be able to what they want,” Bostic said. “All their resources are needed just to get by. What I feel Christmas is all about anyway is just being able to give back to the community. This year has been second annual everything. I think some organizations start things but they just fizzle out. We want to be able to continue and grow. Next year, if it’s up to me, we’ll have 100 families.”
He said the growth of the organization is proof that its work is favored by God, and that he told God he was “all in” for whatever his will might be. The bonds forged with sponsors and contributors in the community, Bostic explained, not only kept the dream alive for a second year, but made it better.
“The thing that makes this work is partnership,” Bostic said. “With this year and the election and everything, we didn’t have the time to plan like we did before. But even with less time, God has allowed us to double every event this year. People see that, and they want to jump in now. People who want to help others, but maybe aren’t sure how, can take advantage of this avenue.”
The mission of BLACK — learning and practicing the qualities that earn one the title of manhood, understanding the importance of education and social systems and leaving a legacy — stands on a foundation of mentoring.
“We are here to change the negative narrative of African American males aged 12 to 18,” Bostic said. “We want to be able to support them and provide positive role models as mentors, offer scholarships and teach those important qualities of manhood.”
That, however, requires a certain willingness from the entire community to uphold and reinforce the new, positive narrative — something Bostic said he has experienced abundantly.
“With BLACK, what people are seeing — and what they should see — is this thing isn’t just for African Americans,” he explained. “We’ve had so much help from every race in Richmond County — and I mean every single race. Everyone has offered support, donated finances. It’s beyond what I had imagined already, and this is just year two for us.”
Bostic, who self-identifies as “an average guy from Marston, North Carolina” and went to the same schools as everyone else, left Richmond County and finished college before joining the military. He noted that a lot of young black men who leave here for higher education tend not to come back.
“There comes a point when you come to a crossroads where you have to decide whether you’re going to do something to change this negative narrative, or continue to allow that to be reinforced among these young men,” Bostic said. “Having strong role models, successful adults to look up to, can make a difference.”
Which, he said, is why he came back.
“If people can’t see that God has absolutely created a movement here, just look at how we’ve expanded,” Bostic added. “I think we’re ending the year strong. God is good. I can’t express that enough, but he’s working.”
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.