LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It was 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 and a line of about 20 people streamed out the back end of St. William Catholic Church, off W. 5th St., in downtown London.
Seven Navy JROTC cadets from North Laurel High School stood ready to help. One black bag – filled with clothing and at least two toys – was given to 414 families from 9 a.m. to about noon, but the students from North Laurel High didn’t mind the work at all.
“I just feel good doing it,” said Roger Garrett, one of the students.
Leading them was Vickie Nicholson, the charmingly, energetic Christmas giveaway coordinator at St. William. This is the 36th time the church has contributed to the community during the holiday season, an event that Nicholson can trace back four generations in her family.
For the past month, Nicholson and more than 20 volunteers have shopped for, wrapped, and labeled all 414 presents. The presents – made specific to order – come from Family Resource Center Directors from all over Laurel County, ranging from coats, jackets, shoes and pants to dolls, monster trucks, and bikes.
“Everything is wrapped. Well, we haven’t found a way to wrap the bikes quite yet,” Nicholson said. “We haven’t found a bag big enough.”
For more than three hours, parents and relatives arrived at St. William to pick up their presents. They each carried a note from their respective Family Resource Center Director and photo ID. The seven JROTC cadets then scurried to a school’s designated pile, found the gift, and delivered it to a vehicle.
The gifts were made possible through a series of donations from St. William’s members and elsewhere. This included a hefty donation from Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary as well as Toys for Tots, both in Lexington.
While this year seemed to go quite smoothly, Nicholson and her team of volunteers could recall years that it didn’t. However, each memory was recited with a smile and a laugh.