Joint Christmas party upholds spirit of giving

Shriners pose with kids on their new bikes at the annual Christmas Party held at the Aladdin Temple #111 on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014.   – Photos by S. Hale
Shriners pose with kids on their new bikes at the annual Christmas Party held at the Aladdin Temple #111 on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014.    – Photos by S. Hale

by Shawn Nowlin

In an ideal world every child–regardless of upbringing or community–should receive at least one gift during the holidays. But this is no ideal world and according to national studies more than 45% of all kids go without holiday gifts. Considering that, local Shriners of Aladdin Temple #111 assisted by The Daughters of Isis and Apple Ridge Farms once again rose to the demand with their annual Christmas Party.

Walter Starkey presents bikes to several happy kids.
Walter Starkey presents bikes to several happy kids.

Now in its 9th year, the event was held Saturday, Dec. 20 at the lodge on Shenandoah Ave in northwest. For over two hours dozens of young children and their families were treated to pizza and snacks as well as the opportunity to get a picture taken with Soul Santa.

Family with Soul Santa.
Family with Soul Santa.

Bikes, action dolls and many other gifts were passed out to over 60 kids that attended the party. “We as Nobles do our best to do what we can especially during this time of year for the children,” said Potentate Sherman Taylor who took the opportunity to praise Lewis for his collaborative efforts regarding the holiday project. “We have Shriners from all over the world who give things away…so the people from Apple Ridge and the Shriners are going to show their love to you (children),” added Rev. John Vernon, a longtime member of the order.

Attendants go through pizza line at the Christmas party.
Attendants go through pizza line at the Christmas party.

Significant to the core of Christmas is the principle of giving–as the holiday is more than just about receiving a gift. According to reports, all bikes were purchased this year with no donations from any retailer or outside source.

“There is nothing like seeing a child smile…” said Dtr. Lourice Taylor, who heads the ladies faction of the organization. Without group efforts like the Shriners party many kids would go without a gift during the holidays. Young or old, there is no denying that certain nostalgia that comes as December rolls around and some say that winter is one of the best times of year to be a kid.  Shriners_1750_clr

For over 35 years Apple Ridge Farm, located in the foot-hills of Floyd County VA, has provided an environmental, education and camping experience for more than 70,000 youth, many from Roanoke’s inner-city neighborhoods and public housing projects.