From the outside, the big metal building behind Pembroke Advanced Communications looks like the maintenance shop it is for much of the year.
But step inside the building on a Monday in mid-December and it’s more like a Christmas workshop, filled with toys and children’s clothing, books and shoes and games.
It’s also a beehive of activity as Wendy Sims and about half a dozen helpers stuff bags and check lists to make sure each of the nearly 500 kids on the Bryan County Children’s Fund list get what they asked for.
“We treat these children like our own children,” Bryan County Family Connections Director Wendy Sims said. “We’re going bag by bag to make sure they have shoes and socks and underwears and pajamas and clothes and toys that are appropriate.
“We’re not just giving them some general toy. If they ask for Ninja Turtles, we give them Ninja turtles.”
Or whatever their heart desires, if possible — meaning Spiderman toys, or a basketball, or a game, or puzzle, or book, or fishing pole, or football or Barbie. It’s the culmination of months of work.
“We start on this in September,” said Sims, who along with collaborative members Heather Miller, Audrey Singleton, Tara Jennings and Betty Lee do the lion’s share of the work.
Two days before the gifts are distributed, there’s still plenty to be done. But that doesn’t matter.
“I love doing it,” said PAC employee Forrest Miller. “I love helping out the kids and it’s always really fun to come back here and help out. That’s partially because its fun watching Wendy stress out.”
It’s serous business, with a twist.
“It’s always pretty lighthearted back here, but everybody works hard to make sure everything is straight,” Miller said.
Miller is one of three PAC employees — Jeffrey Beckworth and Corey Cook are the others — working to help Sims and Bryan County Family Connection staff member Angel Page match gifts with kids.
Also on hand are Lee and homeschool students Lorin and Eleana Alderman, there to help and earn community service hours at the same time.
Some do one job, some another. Somehow it gets done.
Sims checks lists while Page goes through bags lining the linoleum floor, each bag bearing a piece of paper with a letter and number to identify which child it is for.
The homeschool students act as runners, fetching this and that. An Easy Bake oven here, a set of Spongebob Square Pants pajamas there, a pair of shoes for a 3-year-old boy over there.
All go into black plastic bags, unwrapped — though the BCFC provides wrapping paper to each family it provides gifts for.
“We hope they wrap them,” Sims said.
Read more in the Dec. 21 edition of the News.