Kinston seniors enjoy night of Christmas festivities
Dozens of Kinston seniors received a hearty dose of Christmas cheer Wednesday night.
Wil and Donna Hardy organized the event, which was held at The Gate Community Center on Gordon Street. Wil Hardy said that his wife first came up with the idea for a Christmas dinner for seniors in the early 1980s, and through the Evening Rotary Club, the event took place for thirty-five years. When that club disbanded earlier this year, however, the Hardy’s wanted to ensure that the seniors who enjoyed it yearly would not miss out.
The Hardy’s work with the Lenoir County Council on Aging to identify seniors in particular need of an invitation to the event. Wil Hardy said that many of those invited do not have family to spend the holidays with, or are disconnected from their families. “We invite them, feed them, entertain, and surprise them,” Hardy said.
A group of teens who frequent The Gate helped serve a meal to the gathered seniors. Hardy said that allowing the kids to give back to the seniors, who he called “pillars of the community” was a huge plus of holding the event at The Gate this year.
Following the meal, those in attendance were treated to a concert of Christmas favorites by local entertainers Rick and Jane Vernon. The couple wowed the crowd with renditions of Christmas songs such as Elvis’ Blue Christmas, but the seniors also got the chance to sing along with many classic Christmas carols, which had the entire audience participating.
The final portion of the evening’s events was a giveaway of door prizes, as well as special gifts for the oldest man and woman in attendance. Janice Ingram, the winner of one of the door prizes, said that she enjoyed everything, and was thrilled with her prize, a miniature rose bush. To ensure that no one left empty handed, Hardy also had a special gift for each person there.
Bessie Maxwell said that she has attended the event every year for some time. “I look forward to this event every year, and I enjoy it immensely. I think it’s a wonderful event for seniors,” she said.
Hardy said his goal for the evening was to provide an “uplifting, entertaining, happy time,” and from the smiles on the faces, it certainly seemed as though he was successful.