As the Logan County Head Start Director, and I feel it is imperative to formally express some gratitude to Mr. Tommy Kirk and the Chapmanville Middle School cheerleaders and boys and girls basketball teams. It’s not often that I am rendered speechless, but this week’s event has been an exception, and it’s taken me some time to get my thoughts on paper.
I am in absolute awe at the overwhelming support that the Chapmanville community has shown to Logan County Head Start children. Each year, for at least the past 16 years, Mr. Tommy Kirk and the Chapmanville Middle School cheerleaders and girls and boys basketball teams each form small groups consisting of 3-4 teammates, are given the wants/needs of a Head Start child, and then start shopping to make that child’s Christmas magical. This year’s event culminated on Tuesday, December 13th at the Chapmanville Middle School gymnasium.
The athletes showered these children with gifts – everything from bicycles, scooters, and remote control cars to clothes, dump trucks, basketballs, Barbie dolls, and American Girl dolls. It was a sight to be seen, not only the looks on the three- and four-year old faces, but also watching the compassion exhibited from middle schoolers as they interacted with these children.
I walked the gym snapping pictures of these special memories and chatting with several of the parents and grandparents who came to see Christmas through their children’s eyes. One grandparent explained to me that both mom and dad are currently unemployed. For this family, and many others, this event IS their Christmas. At a time when Logan County and its coal industry has been tremendously impacted, there aren’t enough words to adequately convey how grateful and proud I am of this community’s ability to rally for the children.
For all those parents who generously shopped for children they’d never met; for the middle school athletes who took time to make this day all about our Head Start children; for the teachers, Sharon Szucs, Ashlee Adams, and Angela Lambert, who helped make lists and organize the event; for PRIDE’s staff who assisted, Bridgette Lesher, Tara White, and Laura Herndon; for Malindia Vinson who helped ensure donations and transport them to the school; for Piggly Wiggly for donating cake; for Giovanni’s for ensuring we have a large number of pizzas ready on time; for Chapmanville Middle School for allowing us to take over their gymnasium; for Keith and Marquita Vernatter for ensuring that all children got their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus; and especially for Mr. Tommy Kirk, his coaches, and the Chapmanville Middle School cheerleaders and girls and boys basketball teams, this was a true community effort.
Candice D. Mullins