Spirit of the Season

2017

Goldsboro News-Argus - Spirit of the Season

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By JOEY PITCHFORD jpitchford@newsargus.com The students of Air- man Leadership School class 17-G gave back to someone who has given Seymour Johnson Air Force Base so much. The class presented a check for $1,100 to the USO of North Carolina Dec. 4, in honor of USO base liaison Allan Peder- son. Members of the class held various fundraisers to raise the money, said ALS Commandant Senior Master Sgt. Jef- fery Stoner. "We wanted to do something for Al, because he's done so much for us," he said. "We sold a lot of chili dogs and washed a lot of cars." Pederson has worked with SJAFB for seven years. During that time, he has spent thousands of hours interacting with airmen to determine their specific needs and meet them. "I have a little care box that I make, and I'll meet with airmen who are getting deployed. Not the big deployments, but just the individuals who are going alone," he said. "I do it because I enjoy it, and I know there's a need." Meeting with outgoing airmen is just a small, personal part of Peder- son's larger role. As base liaison for the USO, Pederson has access all over the base, and meets with airmen and base leadership to determine how to best connect airmen with the resources they need. A Wayne County resi- dent since 1992, Peder- son said he has learned to deal with being a well-recognized figure on base. "Well, it's a little embarrassing. As I say, at the various events if the commander's wife or one of them doesn't come, I get to fill the odd seat at the commander's table or table number two," he said. "When they introduce me as a representative of the USO, whether it's there at the quarterly awards or various other programs, the applause is pretty deafening. But I've learned to go with it." Chris Froeschner, vice president of operations for the USO of N.C., said that Pederson is a unique figure within the organization. "Al is truly the boots on the ground here, he's that recognizable face for the USO of North Carolina," he said. "It's unique, because we don't have that at other bases." Froeschner said that the money will go back in to services for SJAFB airmen. Seymour John- son is part of the USO's Triangle area, with its headquarters at Raleigh-Durham airport. Froeschner said that volunteers like Pederson are what keep the USO operating. "With his ability to be here and serve the air- men and the relation- ships he's made throughout the years, that has engendered the airmen to give back," he said. "They see all the good he's been able to do. We actually have a budget line for Seymour John- son Air Force Base in our state-wide budget for the Triangle area, so this can go directly in to helping offset the costs of the services brought out here." By BECKY BARCLAY bbarclay@newsargus.com Christmas is a magi- cal season for children as they eagerly await Santa's arrival with a bag full of toys. But for some chil- dren, Christmas may be just another day, no tree, no fancy holiday meal and no toys. To help make sure this didn't happen to Wayne County children, members of Trifectas held a barbecue plate sale to raise funds to purchase things like food, a tree and toys for these children. "We have people order plates each year because they know what the money is going for," said Trifec- tas president Scott Johnson. Last year, the group was able to help 25 local families, he said. "Last year we helped a single mom with three children," John- son said. "She worked at the turkey plant but had no Christmas tree, food or presents for her chil- dren. The kids' princi- pal drove them to the house and we met them there and gave them a tree, food and presents. The looks on those kids' faces were priceless." Another year, the Tri- fectas help a family of three in Dudley, the father, the pregnant mother and a 5-year-old boy. "They had no tree, nothing," Johnson said. "All they had was cereal and a little milk and that's what the boy was eating. There was a hole in their bathroom floor and you could see the dirt under the house. "We bought them a tree, food and all kinds of presents for the boy, who had made out his Christmas list. "While he was asleep, we delivered the pres- ents and tree." Johnson said it's the greatest feeling to be able to do this for peo- ple in this community. "It's the best feeling," he said. "I'd give up everything I had just to help these kids. "I have a huge heart for families, especially this time of year. We (Trifectas) are all so blessed and to see peo- ple at Christmas that struggle, some with lit- erally no food, it breaks my heart. "I just want other children to experience what I experienced through the holidays." Trifectas was formed six years ago. It started out with 10 members and has grown to 40. Johnson and Ray Fields run the club. Anyone can be in the club, but it's usually those who are interest- ed in triathlons, John- son said. "We used to race for a team for orphans with Down Syndrome across the nation, but we saw such a need in our com- munity for help for the holidays and also at other times. "We wanted to con- centrate more on people here. We go to the inner-city schools here and find families really struggling at Christ- mas with food, toys, clothes and even utili- ties." 10 — Goldsboro News-Argus Sunday, December 24, 2017 Wishing you lots of love, joy and happiness. Thank you for all your continued support. 15DCB1117J© Merry Christmas ... and Hay New Year 919-751-1645 • 2305 Highway 70 West | www.carolinaoverheaddoors.com May your world be filled with warmth and good cheer this Holy Season and throughout the year. Merry Christmas! 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We sincerely hope you have a happy holiday season, filled with joy, from our family to yours. 33DCT1217J© The Joy Christmas Brings... Dillard also enjoys the chance to get out and ride with other bikers. "Sometimes, you meet new people," he said. "We all like to ride and it gives us time to ride and get together." After collecting the toys and donations, the bikers rode down Berkeley Boulevard and Ash Street to the downtown area and circled back down Ash Street to Spence Avenue, Royall Avenue and along George Street. The run ended at The Howling Moon Saloon where an afterparty was held. Inside the saloon, children's toys were piled high on top of several pool tables. Dressed in red cow- girl boots, a red sweater and red scarf, Sandi Morrow said the toy run was a combined effort of everyone involved. Morrow has partici- pated in the toy run every year. "We go on all the toy runs," she said. "This is the biggest one. It's for the kids, to put smiles on the faces of children who may not have any- thing under the tree." Morrow took with her a children's toy for a girl and another for a boy. The toy run is also a lot of fun for bikers who get the chance to pull together their resources for the less fortunate, she said. "Everybody just pitches in," Morrow said. "It's family. It's sis- terhood. It's brother- hood. Everybody just pulls together for the kids. "Every year, it gets bigger and better." Continued from 9 Toy ride HAVE A NEWS TIP? KNOW SOMEONE IN THE COMMUNITY WHO DESERVES RECOGNITION? Call The News-Argus newsroom at 778-2211 or e-mail news@ newsargus.com Photo submitted The three members of the Trifectas who run the team are, from left, David Eckenrod, Scott Johnson and Ray Fields. The group did a barbecue plate fundraiser to help local needy families during the Christmas holiday. Trifectas helps families with toys, food, tree during the holidays ■ Members held a barbecue plate sale to raise money for the project to buy toys, food and even a tree for families. 'We (Trifectas) are all so blessed and to see people at Christmas that struggle, some with literally no food, it breaks my heart. I just want other children to experience what I experienced through the holidays.' SCOTT JOHNSON on why Trifectas helps local families during Christmas. Leadership School class donates $1,100 to the USO ■ Class wanted to give back to someone who has given so much to the base.

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