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Generous spirit benefits needy children

AHOSKIE – Despite tough economic times, the spirit of giving is alive and well.

Last week, the floor of Southern Bank in Ahoskie resembled Christmas morning within a huge household. Toys – some covered with festive holiday paper while others were unwrapped – were everywhere; spilling out of a big box and littering the floor surrounding the bank’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

Those gifts will soon find their way into the hands of local youngsters. For some, the toys will represent the only presents received this holiday season by needy children.

Ahoskie’s Southern Bank served as the collection point for a pair of Christmas gift campaigns this year – “Toys for Tots” and the S.A.F.E. (Shelter for Abused Families in Emergencies) “Angel Tree.”

“Both of these are very worthwhile programs, ones we here at Southern Bank are proud to be a part of,” said Teresa Jenkins, Branch Manager and Vice-President of the Ahoskie financial institution.

Jenkins continued, “It really warms your heart to see that people still care about others, especially those in need. The downturn in the economy has affected all of us, but it’s nice to see individuals dig a little deeper and help others.”

The S.A.F.E. “Angel Tree” contained tags bearing the gender and age of children whose families have felt the emotional scars of a domestic crisis. Those choosing a tag were responsible for purchasing a gift and returning it to Southern Bank. From there, S.A.F.E. officials will pick-up and distribute those presents.

“Toys for Tots” is a long-standing program sponsored by the United States Marine Corps. Those toys are destined to wind-up in the hands of local children.

“The ‘Toys for Tots’ box here in the bank is running over with gifts and scattered all over the floor, including a new bicycle” Jenkins noted. “We’ve seen involvement in both programs from the customers and employees of this bank as well as from the general public.”

Two other Southern Bank branches in Hertford County (Murfreesboro and Winton) were also involved in collecting gifts for the “Toys for Tots” program.

The Ahoskie Jaycees played a key role in the local “Toys for Tots” effort. Club member Harriet Byrum said the Jaycees became involved after the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce, upon receiving a request from the Marines asking for collection locations, sent out an e-mail looking for local interest in the program.

“I took it before our members at a meeting and they were in full support,” Byrum said. “We then contacted the Southern Bank branches in Ahoskie, Murfreesboro and Winton to see if they would be interested being a collection site. And now, as you can see with all these toys, the local effort has been well-received.”

Thanks to those who made a gift contribution to either program, Christmas will be brighter for those in need.