Tradition is important as is change. In regard to tradition, the Adult Family Care Christmas Party (AFCCP) has been a constant since at least 1994 marking 2014 as the 20th celebration of this event. The Christmas party was initially held at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR). The party then began being held at its present location of First Baptist Church, Fairlea. The event started as a warm weather picnic probably back in 1991.
The current AFCCP once again involved the efforts of the First Baptist adult Sunday School classes and the WVDHHR personnel as has been the custom through the years. This party was held in honor of Rev. Jack Fox and in memory of his late wife, Prudence. Jack had led and helped plan the early Christmas celebrations. Dr. Dallas Smith, senior pastor of First Baptist, presented him with a gift certificate to the Cornerstone Christian bookstore in Ronceverte. Larry Lilly accepted the certificate on behalf of Fox who was unable to attend. The late William Butts and David Scott were also remembered at the event.
The planning committee for the party chose the theme “Happy Birthday, Jesus!,” the birth of Jesus Christ being the true reason and meaning for celebrating the season. Banners of the theme and Nativity scene were hung in the fellowship hall of the church, where the party was conducted. The Ronceverte Kroger store baked and decorated a beautiful birthday cake with a Nativity picture centered on the cake. Additionally, a Nativity quilt was draped over a piano used in the party. Balloons, figurines of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, and floral arrangements adorned the tables.
Andrew Connor, pastor of youth and education, had an opening prayer and blessed the food for the party after a welcome and the certificate presentation by Dr. Smith. Charles Mulkey led the singing of “Happy Birthday, Jesus” and then lunch was served by the Good News, Maranatha, and Friendship Sunday School classes to the 24 clients, nine providers, and WVDHHR attendees. The Greenbrier Valley Medical Center chef furnished the turkey, ham, and mashed potatoes for the luncheon. Herb and Evelene Loudermilk also roasted a turkey. The luncheon menu was provided through the efforts of Edie Sauls, who served as food coordinator.
Other party highlights included special singing by Johnny Shores and Mulkey. Two of the hymns sung were “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night.” Group singing was led by Mulkey with June Elwell as pianist. Donna Smith (Dr. Smith’s wife) read biblical scripture and a poem of the “Candy Cane.” Dr. Smith explained the Nativity’s significance and further elaborated that when the candy cane is turned upside down, it represents an alphabetical “J” for Jesus.
The attendees also sang happy birthday to Gary Dowdy in the audience during the party. Two elves (Rachel Goodall and Beulah Lilly) performing their shenanigans paved the way for the appearance of that jolly old man, Santa Claus (Bob Baker), who mingled and entertained the audience. Santa, with his helpers, handed out gifts and goody bags to the clients, and the figurines were taken by the providers. Larry Lilly acknowledged the businesses, groups, and individuals who help make this party a success each year. Edie Sauls had a closing prayer and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” was sung in unison to close the program.
Key activities for the event included the designing and printing of the program bulletins by Kathy Stickley; the photography of Michael Keegan; the greeters Kenny Goodall, Mulkey, and his wife Betty; the making and providing name tags for everyone by Jack Smith, Roy Sauls, and Sandra Reid; the contact of the caregivers and clients concerning the necessary presents by Rachel Goodall; and the selection and stuffing of the goody bags by Beulah Lilly, which were given to everyone. A special thanks goes to Kaye Hinkle, who set up and decorated the Christmas tree for the party.
Tri-County Produce in Ronceverte again provided the fruit for the goody bags. Another business, Magic Mart in Ronceverte, donated the bulk of the items for the goody bags. The Lewisburg Walmart donated a gift card for the event. WVDHHR provided the napkins, cups, plates, and utensils. Those attending from the WVDHHR were Debbie Totten, Karen Farmer, Drema Stanley, Naomi Okes, Shana Bennett, Cara Baldwin, Karen MartinShuck, and Julie Smith.