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Christmas is a time of joy for EHDA children

John Thompson • Updated Dec 21, 2017 at 8:54 PM

ELIZABETHTON— Santa Claus had plenty of helpers at the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency on Thursday.

The agency’s annual Christmas party for the children of its residents was once again a big hit, with 200 children getting a big bag of presents. The presents included balls, dolls, board games and lots of other age-appropriate gifts for children from newborns to adolescents. Some lucky boys and girls also got new bicycles, tricycles and scooters.

Because the party is held ahead of Christmas, Santa’s elves are busy at the North Pole. Santa enlisted the help of the Ghost Riders Motorcycle Club to provide the toys for the children. Club members conducted a toy drive in front of the Elizabethton Walmart.

The club brought its treasure trove of toys, bikes and trikes to the housing agency last week, where employees sorted the toys into groups, such as for an 8-year-old boy or 3-year-old girl.

Before the toys were distributed on Thursday, the families were invited to the EHDA offices for pizza and snacks. While everyone was gathered in the activity room, EHDA Executive Director Kelly Geagley introduced several Ghost Riders to the group and issued a certificate of appreciation for the 10 years the club has been collecting the toys for the children.

Geagley said the Christmas party has been held for 22 years. He started it the year he took over as executive director. But in the early days, there had been only enough money to give each child a little candy and a single toy. Now each child gets at least four or five toys.

After that, the children lined up and were escorted into a small room to see Santa. As each child entered, and elf shouted a description like; “boy, 5-year-old,” and a large bag of toys was quickly presented as the child sat on Santa’s lap.

The procedure was not always perfect. One young girl was presented with a bag of presents that included a soccer ball. “I don’t play soccer,” the little girl said. The ball was switched for another gift.

The bicycles were distributed by a drawing. The children received their bikes in addition to the bag full of toys.

While the children could be expected to be happy and excited as they left the party, there were plenty of happy mothers and fathers also.

“I can’t believe how many toys they gave my little girl,” said Isaac Wilee. He said he will never forget how big her eyes got as she sat on Santa’s lap and received her bag of presents.

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