Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 23, 2013

Brothers of the Wheel, DHHR join forces to bring Christmas joy to 86 local children

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Click here for video

The Highlands Chapter, Brothers of the Wheel, delivered on their ongoing commitment to provide a merry Christmas to children served through the Princeton office of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services by distributing gifts to 86 children, food to their 36 families, and a pizza party with Santa.

“Eighty-six kids. This is the best we’ve ever done,” Doc, a long-time member of the Brothers of the Wheel said. “One hundred percent of the funds that we collect go straight to these children. The (Princeton) Walmart was kind enough to let us hold a hot dog, craft and bake sale on three days on three different weeks. The community supported of our efforts and along with contributions from our local Moose Lodge and H&S Sports, we raised $9,000. Most of the chapter came out when we shopped at the Walmart.”

In addition to the Brothers of the Wheel, 12 volunteers from the DHHR — all dressed as elves, including two elves in costume from head to toe — came out to assist with the party and to help distribute the gifts.

“This is the 16th year that we’ve been working with the Brothers of the Wheel on this party,” one of the elves who served as a spokesperson for the volunteers said. As she was talking, a young man came up to her wearing a hat with antlers, and showed her how they moved. She gave him a hug and he returned to his seat in the Renaissance Theater.

“We are trying to make this a really special event for the kids,” the elf said. “We really want it to be something that the children can enjoy.”

During the first 12 years that the bikers have worked with the DHHR, the parties were held at the DHHR offices in Princeton. This year, the event moved into the Renaissance Theater courtesy of the Princeton Renaissance Project which offered the theater at no cost, according to Doc.

Prior to the start of the festivities, Jennifer Farmer took center stage, offered a welcome, explained the no smoking rules, pointed out where the exits are and asked: “Who are you all here to see today?” The children yelled: “Santa,” in response.

Along with the gifts that the bikers purchased, Mountain Heart Child Care stepped up and purchased 13 bicycles for the children, according to another of the elves.

“We have been keeping them in the back out of sight for when Santa arrives,” Doc said.

Santa himself arrived with a loud: “Ho-Ho-Ho,” and the children cheered with excitement. “Merry Christmas to you all,” Santa added.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com