Cultural society helps local kids have a happy holiday

01_JerolineMcCarthy01At the end of the day, special emphasis was placed on children when the African American Cultural Society (AACS) marked the 20th anniversary of Christmas gift-giving for the less fortunate of Bunnell, Espanola, Flagler Beach and Palm Coast.

Chairman June Bethel and the Christmas Gift-Giving Committee recently expended a hearty welcome with festive, holiday decorations, music and gift-giving of toys, books, and turkeys at the AACS center. With donations of funds from AACS members, friends and corporate sponsors, the evening was assured of achievement.

The arrival of Santa and Mrs. Clause (Berkeley O. Chandler, Jr. and Melissa Arnold) was the highlight.
The arrival of Santa and Mrs. Clause (Berkeley O. Chandler, Jr. and Melissa Arnold) was the highlight.

Twenty years ago, the late Walter Morris was the impetus behind the start of Christmas gift-giving program. Morris, during World War II, became our nation’s first Black paratrooper, and emerged as a sought-after speaker and the subject of awards, print media, documentaries, and TV broadcasts – particularly by journalist/NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw – together with CNN.

Remembering Morris
A member of the African American Cultural Society, Morris was recognized as an innovator and presented posthumously with a plaque. The award from AACS President Edmund G. Pinto, Jr. was presented to Morris’ daughters, Crystal Poole and Jean Lanier, and son-in-law, Bob Lanier. The outreach was a worthy venture to insure that Christmas is a season of giving.

Added with Morris and Bethel, the Christmas Gift-Giving chairmen to date are: Vincent W. Julius, Frances Bennett, Barbara Goss and Evangelist Wisteria Polite.

In the early days before construction of the AACS center, Christmas gifts were delivered directly to the less fortunate by Morris and a caravan of his committee.

Years later, gifts were presented during parties at the Flagler County Head Start, St. James Missionary Baptist Church of Bunnell, and St. Paul Baptist Church of Espanola.

Joyous sounds
In joyous fervor, Stephanie Robinson read, “The Night Before Christmas.” “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” expressed the Head Start kids’ rendition of song.

The kids were represented by Cheryl Smith and Robert Young of Flagler Head Start, Janice Butler of the Flagler Child Development Center, as well as Alexis Smith and Catherine Webber of the Family Life Center, and Francina Marshall and Katherine Jefferson of the Town of Espanola. The kids showed off attire of their Sunday best, and were accompanied by their parents and other family members.

Santa and Mrs. Claus’ arrival was the highlight of giving brightly wrapped gifts, packaged by the committee masquerading as elves. Santa and Mrs. Claus were impersonated by Berkeley O. Chandler, Jr. and Melissa Arnold.

In all fairness, the Christmas magic was created through sound and music by Donald Bryant and photographs by Joseph Matthews.

Creating a gift-giving to remember were Bethel and her committee: Dora M. Campbell, Stephanie Ecklin, Muriel “Luci” McGhee, Seconia Reid, Hope Swire, and Muriel Carey with Reba Clark, Sondra Henderson, Dorothy Nixon, Stephanie Robinson and Jean M. Tanner.


As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.

Birthday wishes to: Imani Smith, Jan. 4; Doris Sheppard, James Major, Jan. 6.



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