Graham Atkinson has not stopped serving the people of Surry County since he retired as the Surry County Sheriff in 2017. While the job title and office location may have changed, his dedication to county residents continues in a holiday tradition that is spreading outside Surry County.
Give a Kid a Christmas is an annual showcase of local talent in a telethon style event that raised the bulk of the funds to purchase gifts for needy kids at Christmas. This was the third such streamed telethon with the campaign asking residents to help those in need, “The holiday season will be here soon, and the need is greater than ever.”
To raise money for the endeavor, Give a Kid a Christmas has been holding an annual telethon online. A live-streamed telethon highlighted talent from the area in order to raise money for those in need. Austin Caviness, formerly of WXII weather and now the pastor of Salem Fork Christian in Dobson was tapped to emcee the event. This year’s program raised an impressive sum of $40,505 which will be used to get presents for needy children in the area.
With the telethon moving to an online streaming format, it has increased the exposure of the event and has helped the amount of money that the campaign receives. As Dr. Travis Reeves of Surry County Schools was reading through donations during the telethon, he offered thanks to Steve Smith of Pfafftown. Caviness chimed in, “Extending beyond Surry County, that’s the beauty of Facebook connecting you to us.”
Give a Kid a Christmas was launched by Sheriff Graham Atkinson more than three decades ago when he was a deputy serving as a D.A.R.E. officer. Atkinson’s vision carries on long past the time he departed for a larger role in state law enforcement in 2017. He currently serves in Raleigh on the governor’s Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.
For those who have been living in these parts, the story on how this all started is one Atkinson has told many times. “I noticed a young man was wearing the same clothes each time I was there. They were obscenely small clothes. I started asking some of his teachers, and they told me he’d worn the same set of clothes to school every day. Since he was in third grade.”
He wanted to help that young man and others like him in need. Many years later the telethon and the charitable giving are still going strong with support from the community.
Prior to the telethon businesses and schools around the area were already kicking their fundraising into high gear. Examples are found like the Ararat Volunteer Fire Department donating 50% of the proceeds from their recent Bingo event to the cause. Or, in October part of the proceeds from the Pilot Mountain Tractor Show also went to Give a Kid a Christmas.
Reeves is a big fan of the campaign. “For over 30 years, the Give a Kid a Christmas Foundation has been a staple here in Surry County Schools to help our students with food, with clothing, the bare necessitates, and with toys.” The event last year raised enough money to provide food and clothing to about 700 children and afforded the creation of over 350 boxes of food.
Reeves reminded that the efforts would continue as the Give a Kid a Christmas Foundation has hundreds of food boxes to pack. On the morning of Dec. 10, at 8 a.m., at Surry Central High he said, “We have 375 to pack that morning. That’s a great morning where we can show love and really fellowship together in doing something good for each other.”
It takes the aid and effort of all types of people across the community to pull off an event year after year of such scope. This year the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery’s All-Stars are going to be helping do some of the heavy lifting when they descend onto Walmart next week to spend the bounty from this year’s telethon.
“The All-Stars Prevention Group has a wonderful opportunity to help the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, since they help us in our prevention efforts on a regular basis,” Charlotte Reeves, outreach coordinator for the Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery said. “Give a Kid a Christmas is something they participate in every year, which is vital in making sure that every child has Christmas presents. This year the sheriff’s office need volunteers to help do the shopping for the gifts at Walmart. The All-Stars have offered to be part of this wonderful holiday event.”
“I think it is a great thing to do with kids,” she said of helping others and invited the All-Stars to make the shopping trip and assembly of food boxes a family affair. “It teaches them the great feeling you get when you give to others and how you can make a real difference in the lives of others. It takes us all to make a difference.”
“Couldn’t tune in to the telethon?” organizers asked, “There is still time to give. Consider adding Give a Kid A Christmas to your giving list and make a difference in the life of a child this Christmas morning.”
Donate online at paypal.me/giveakidachristmas or on Venmo at @SheriffAtkinsons-GiveaKidaChri. You can also make a donation with a check to the Foundation in c/o Sheriff of Surry County, P.O. Box 827, Dobson, NC 27017!
The entire telethon broadcast is available now for viewing online, so there is still a chance to see a friend of loved one who performed. Find the telethon on Facebook using the abbreviated link: https://fb.watch/h7jEYSawG4.
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