When the doors open at 2 p.m. for Ronceverte’s Annual Christmas Eve Stocking giveaway, a line will already be down the block.
Stockings have been filled for more than 1,500 children, and will be stacked on pallets inside the Clifford Community Center on Edgar Ave. Children will be fidgeting as they stand in line awaiting the arrival of the event’s star, Santa Claus, who will arrive via the Ronceverte’s Volunteer Fire Department’s truck. Volunteers from Main Street Ronceverte will be on hand to help give out stockings along with cookies and hot chocolate until all children have had a chance to visit with Santa this Christmas Eve.
This event has been happening for over 80 years and many of the residents of this small community remember receiving their stockings as children and take pride in the fact that the tradition continues. Volunteers from the Ronceverte Fire Department have spent countless hours filling the stockings with fruit and other goodies. Main Street Ronceverte volunteers are busy decorating the Community Center with Christmas decorations and plan to play music and serve hot chocolate and cookies. Sherry McCormick-Hawkins (of the Main Street’s Promotion Committee) says that “anyone who shows up on Saturday will receive free hot chocolate and cookies as part of the festivities of the day but the stockings are reserved for the children. This is really an event for kids who might not otherwise have a present on Christmas morning” she continues, “and that makes this event an important tradition.”
There will also be photo opportunities for the children with Santa after they have received their stocking. Any parents who would like a photo should bring their camera or phone as a professional photographer will not be on hand.
“It’s a rough time with it being so close to Christmas, and not all of our families can afford gifts,” Barbara Morgan of Ronceverte said. “This wonderful event ensures that any child that wants to visit Santa Claus can do so and receive a stocking with no expense for their parents.”
The Stocking Giveaway was started over 80 years ago by the merchants of the community, but as the number of merchants dwindled, the tradition almost folded until the Ronceverte Volunteer Fire Department stepped up several years ago. “We wanted to ensure that each child had at least one stocking at Christmas,” says Ralph Bonner of the Fire Department. “We raise monies for this event all year long but it has become more difficult over the past couple of years. It may be the economy and folks have less to give but it is hard to imagine that a child in our town would have nothing at Christmas time. We hope we can continue in the future and would welcome anyone who would like to volunteer or donate. I am very grateful for our donors and volunteers who make this giveaway possible; they are the ones that make this event happen.”
This year the Fire Department has partnered with Main Street Ronceverte for the annual Christmas stocking giveaway. “We hope to support this special event in any way we can. We can decorate and serve hot chocolate but we are hoping to make it even more special with homemade Christmas cookies. We are reaching out to our local churches and organizations to help with this aspect of the event,” says Sally Baker of Main Street Ronceverte. Cookies can be dropped off at Ronceverte City Hall during regular business hours until 11 a.m. on Christmas Eve.
For further information, please contact Ronceverte Volunteer Fire Department at 304-647-5233 or 304-646-6310.