SALISBURY — Christmas came early to a dozen Rowan County neighborhoods.
Early Thursday morning, buses full of singing, Santa-hatted educators pulled into some of the county’s most in-need communities to deliver toys and food. Students thronged the buses, eagerly pointing out which toy they’d like for Christmas, or joined along in the singing while they waited.
It’s the first year Rowan-Salisbury Schools has done a Christmas giveaway like this, Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said.
Moody said the day was inspired by her experience on a route with the district’s Summer Feeding Program. Funded by the USDA, the program provides daily breakfast and lunch to any child throughout the summer.
“I felt like that experience was really life-changing for me,” Moody said.
And it was one she wanted to share with others in the school system. As December neared, Moody put out a suggestion among central office staff: instead of gift-giving to co-workers, she suggested they consider donating a toy to be given to a student.
Between eager educators and an anonymous donation, Moody said, staff managed to collect between 1,700 and 2,000 toys. Moody also wanted to donate food, as many children served by the Summer Feeding Program and the weekend backpack program Food for Thought are left adrift during Christmas break.
“So part of this is to ensure that our children are taken care of beyond the school day, and part of this is so that our employees can see the children who need them the most,” Moody said.
Food Lion stepped up, providing roughly 400 bags full of food.