‘Tis the season for helping others

Published 8:30 am Thursday, December 24, 2009

JACKSON — Generosity runs deep in Northampton County.

A needy family will benefit from the kindness of the Northampton County Schools Central Office staff, as a part of a Department of Social Services program.

The DSS program brought the season of giving to 130 of the county’s children in need this year.

Recently, more than 40 gifts were donated by the Northampton County Schools Central Office staff to the family they adopted through the program.

“The Central Services staff of Northampton County Schools adopted a family through the Department of Social Services,” said Susie B. Johnson, Director of Community/School Relations and Student Services. “The staff donated according to size, age and requests from the family and which included a bike and helmet.”

According to Johnson, this is the eighth or ninth year for the good deed. This year 30 staff members contributed to the cause; one staff member offering to purchase the bike and another the helmet.

“The staff does this yearly instead of exchanging gifts among themselves,” she said.

The Central Office staff is just one of the many entities that donated or gave to the families involved in the program.

According to DSS Director Dr. Al Wentzy, the program helped 130 needy children this year. The program collected $5,500 in monetary donations and 85 families were adopted.

Wentzy said those who give to the program include government entities, private citizens, businesses, churches and civic groups. The Marine Corps Toys for Tots and Salvation Army also provided donations.

“I’m so grateful to the Northampton County community to respond to the needs of our family, especially now during the height of the recession,” he said. “It just goes to show you Northampton County is a strong Christian community.”

Wentzy said the woman behind it all is Adult Services Supervisor Paula Arrington, who is affectionately known around this time of year as “Mrs. Santa Claus.”

Arrington along with her “elves” begin the process of collecting applications and screening eligible families in October.

Arrington said she recently received thank you letters from some of the recipients in the program.

“It makes you feel good to give and then have them say ‘thank you’,” she said.

Arrington said there is a program for senior citizens adult service clients as well. Senior clients are able to make out a wish list, most of which end up being basic necessities like clothes and bedding.