ROCKINGHAM — With kids being out of school for a two-week Christmas break, those in the community involved with the Kids Café at Leak Street Cultural Center were treated to some early gifts on Friday.
J.C. Watkins, director of the program, challenged the dozen in attendance to recite the poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” and after none of the kids were able to say it, Watkins recited it for them, saying he learned it way back in the seventh grade. Everyone then sang “Jingle Bells” out loud as a way to get into the holiday spirit.
The most important lesson Watkins was trying to convey to the children was that Christmas is the time for giving but also the time for being thankful for the gifts they receive. He asked the kids to name some ways to give.
The children yelled out “share things” and “show love.”
“Care about family and friends but family most of all,” said Watkins. “You might not have any money but you can still show love. There’s so many people doing nice things for you.”
Watkins said that the plethora of presents was made possible from a $1,000 contribution by Mike Griffin of the Griffin Automotive Group.
“Mike knows about what we’re doing here,” said Watkins.
Kids Café teachers Vanessa McIver and Yvonne White used Griffin’s donation to buy the gifts at Walmart.
The center’s Kids Café is an afterschool program that focuses on healthy eating and movement and is aimed at eliminating obesity in children. The program, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays throughout the school year, is free but is limited to 50 students in grades K-9.
The food provided is from the Sandhills Branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Southern Pines. The food bank provided families near the cultural center with bags of apples, sweet potatoes and sodas on Thursday as well.
“It’s just like on Christmas morning,” Watkins went on to tell the children. “After somebody gives you something, what kind of attitude do you have? You say thank you or write a thank-you card.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.