By Bobby Bordelon
The Christmas Eve Ronceverte stocking giveaway is on!
The stocking tradition is an annual event that provides children with a free stocking stuffed with presents and snacks for Christmas. The Ronceverte Volunteer Fire Department coordinates the giveaway, from fundraising and stuffing stockings to giving them out each year. Thanks to COVID-19 safety guidelines, changes have come to the tradition, switching the regular event into a drive through.
“Normally [the kids] get out, get in line, come down, meet Santa, and get stockings, but this year we’re going to have to do it as a drive through,” explained Karen Campbell, a member of the stocking committee.”Of course, they’re not going to be able to sit on Santa’s lap. We’re going to have Santa giving out some of the stockings, so they’ll get to see him through the car.”
At first, the fire department hoped to hold the event with social distancing, trying to keep the give-away as close to tradition as possible. Ultimately, as cases spiked, this was cancelled and a new plan formed.
“We had already kicked around the idea of doing a drive through, and the health department told us that would be a good idea,” Campbell said. “We thought, with it being outside, that we wouldn’t have any problems, but then when we found out that [the infection rate] is getting worse, Greenbrier County is getting more cases, then they started talking to the health department.”
As a result of ample work from the fire department and the stocking committee, over 1,000 stockings are nearly ready to go out to Ronceverte children. Each one contains a can of soda, oranges or apples, cracker jacks, a popcorn ball, a large candy bar, and a toy.
“The majority of [the stocking fillers] we bought [already], so we’re going to have to do something with it,” Campbell joked. “We normally do a bingo [game night to fundraise], but this year we couldn’t do that because of COVID. Instead we did a knife order, it did really well. … Rada, they do fundraisers, sell the knives and you get so much of a percent of what you sell. We did really well on that. … We had donations from the community also.”
Those wanting stocks should be at Island Park in Ronceverte at 2 p.m. on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.
“With cars being involved, I don’t know if that will slow it down or speed it up – as close to 2 p.m. as they can get there would be great,” Campbell said. “I know a lot of people would wait and not have to stand in line, but we miss some people like that. … It’s kind of unchartered territory, handing them out through the cars like this. … Everybody is welcome!”
The department also shared an outline of the event on social media:
Our annual stocking giveaway will still be going on this yearly Christmas Eve. It will be held on Island Park and will be a drive thru this year due to Covid and all the stipulations put on events.
The park will be blocked off to only one way traffic. Traffic will enter thru Monroe Avenue, then proceed to Muligan lumber to line up, and the line will cross the park then exit back out onto Rt. 219. No one will be allowed out of vehicles this year.
Line up will start at 1:30pm and we will start passing them out at 2pm until we run out or everyone that shows up gets one.
Santa will be making an appearance but he is not having any visits with children. He will assist in handing stockings out to vehicles. Kids can wave from their vehicles.
We know it’s far from the traditional stocking giveaway, but Covid didn’t allow for that to happen.
There was talk of canceling this year, but the members of our department didn’t want that to happen. We put together the drive thru idea, and cleared it with the Greenbrier Co. Health Department. We hope it works well for this year and hopefully we can be back to the traditional way next year.
Everyone come out and get a stocking for everyone in the vehicle. And enjoy the Christmas Eve tradition while remaining safe and avoiding large crowds .
And have a Merry Christmas