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Church, volunteers holding Christmas toy drive

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MICRO — Volunteers are collecting toys to distribute to local children at a Christmas giveaway and hot dog lunch planned for Dec. 7.

Charlie Young of North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance in Smithfield said organizers hope to collect more than 1,000 toys between now and Dec. 6. United Community Bank, Capitol Auto of Smithfield and Farm Bureau Insurance in Smithfield are the primary drop-off sites.

Micro Original Free Will Baptist Church’s Hinnant Outreach Center will hold the toy giveaway at 11 a.m. Dec. 7, followed by a “hot dogs with Santa” lunch for area children.

“This will be the sixth year we have done this,” said outreach center director Johnny Parrish. “In the past, we have had some 400-500 youngsters and their families attend. Every kid usually gets a meal, a coat, some toys and gets to talk to Santa Claus.”

Young invites anyone who wants to bring a toy or who has already donated a toy to visit Farm Bureau Insurance on South Brightleaf Boulevard in Smithfield between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 6, the day before the kids’ giveaway, for a separate hot dog lunch planned for donors and organizers.

“Our church has been blessed and we can now be a blessing to others, but it is not just church members who help us with this,” said Parrish. “It takes everyone to make something like this happen and it is a true community event.”

“The toy drive and lunch with Santa event that we host annually at Hinnant Outreach Center is truly one of the great blessings that we are privileged to participate in as a community,” said Micro Original Free Will Baptist Church Lead Pastor Duane Casey. “Speaking as one who has hands-on experience, it gives you a great feeling inside to know that you have a small part in making the holiday season just a little bit happier for a child and their family.”

Casey said the event is not about a church or organization getting credit or praise for its benevolent work but rather about encouraging sentiments of charity, compassion, volunteerism, unity and basic human goodness.

“This is an event intended to build community among both the recipients and the those who volunteer their time and resources,” said Casey. “We encourage people of all backgrounds regardless of race, socioeconomic station or religious affiliation to join us on Dec. 7, because we believe the heart of Christmas will be felt and we will all be benefactors.”

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