Children at the three Boys & Girls Club Golden Triangle locations celebrated Christmas early Tuesday with a pizza party and gifts.
School let out early for children in Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties that day, and employees of Rock Bottom Furniture were waiting to help the Columbus and Starkville units kick off their holiday break. Later in the day, employees traveled to the West Point club in the afternoon to host a similar party, according to Rock Bottom owner Chris Carter, who was at the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus with his family.
Carter said he came up with the pizza party and gift-giving after getting in touch with Brittany H. Turner, director of the Columbus unit.
“This is something that I had on my heart for a while and I felt led to do,” he said as the children came into the facility on 14th Avenue North. “We wanted to help and this was the best way we could come up with. I really enjoyed it. I hope the kids enjoy it as much as we did in putting it together.”
After eating their choice of cheese, pepperoni or sausage pizza, the children at the Boys & Girls Club of Columbus gathered around the tree as Carter’s wife and daughter, Alisha and Cassidy Carter, handed out gifts.
As children opened their presents, they could be heard saying things like, “Oh my God, I got what I wanted,” or “Wow! This is cool.”
After working with the Boys & Girls Club to set up the event, Carter contacted Rick Mason, host of Issues Talk Show and the Morning Kickback Radio Show, who promoted it on his shows and got the community involved.
All five Rock Bottom Furniture locations collected donations for about a month. In total, they gave out over 394 toys, Carter said.
Mason, who also works for J5, noted that he has been a part of several gift giveaways so far this holiday season and the impact has been immediate.
“We’ve had kids and parents crying when they get these gifts,” he said. “Because of unemployment due to COVID some families didn’t know whether they’d be able to have Christmas.”
Carter said he hoped the event would take some stress off the parents during the holidays.
“God has been good to us,” he said. “This has been a good way for us to give back.”
Each Boys & Girls Club location gave Rock Bottom a list of children with their gender and ages, so they could buy appropriate toys.
Turner noted that this is the first time that the organization has partnered with Rock Bottom Furniture.
“We’ve never had someone who consistently gives gifts for everyone,” she said. “This event has been very exciting and rewarding for our staff and our children.”
The Boys & Girls Club will be closed during winter break and will reopen Jan. 10 for the spring.