HAMLET — It has long been claimed that word of mouth is the best way to get the message delivered. One round of the game Telephone and one hears how distorted a message can get from point A to point B.
For 20 years, Poplar Hill Lodge 331 has been putting on their annual Christmas Celebration, and their invitation goes out by word of mouth.
Looking around on Saturday night at Wayman Chapel AME Zion Church near Hamlet, it was amazing to see that nearly 250 people had managed to receive the right message.
The annual event first and foremost benefits the homeless children in Richmond County. It also serves as a great way to socialize and enjoy a meal with others from the community during this special time of year.
“It’s a good outing for seniors and children,” said John Harrington, who has attended the event each of the past four years.
Paullett Wall, homeless coordinator for Richmond County Schools, said last year there were 185 homeless children in the Richmond County school system. This year there are 97 homeless children. A homeless child is defined as one of the following: sharing a residence with another family due to economic hardship; staying in a shelter; home was involved in a fire; resides in an RV trailer park; stays at a hotel; or the home is not adequate living conditions.
“The lodge is instrumental in providing funds for kids’ Christmas,” Wall said.
Donovan Steele, 11, of Ellerbe, put the crowd in the holiday spirit with “O’ Holy Night” and “Break Every Chain.”
Lodge 331 sold 2,000 raffle tickets for a chance to win a 32-inch LED flat screen television. All children attending received a gift-wrapped toy. Additionally, two teenagers received $20, a large stocking was given to a child, and two complete Christmas meals were given away.
Jamilah Dawkins, of Dobbins Heights, attended the event for the first time and felt it was just another one of the mason’s good deeds. Dawkins was the recipient of a $500 scholarship last year to put toward the cost of attending UNC-Chapel Hill. Twelve $500 scholarships are awarded each year.
Mildred Brosier has been attending the event for four years, and sees it as growing every year.
“It’s wonderful what they do,” Brosier said.
Annie Green, of Rockingham, started coming to the event with her late husband, Cleo Green, 20 years ago.
“They’re serving Richmond County as best they can,” Green said.
Lodge 331 was able to raise $1,125 at the event and that was presented to Wall to put toward Christmas for the homeless children in Richmond County.