LUMBERTON — Robeson County Shriners on Wednesday delivered presents and Christmas cheer to 13 lucky sponsor families during a Christmas party.
It was the first Christmas party in 15 years for the Shrine Club and was attended by more than 100 people.
“It’s all about getting to interact with the kids we sponsor with the Shriner Hospital system,” said Coble Wilson III, who led the effort to plan the party. “It’s a joint effort between the Robeson Shrine club and the Sudan Tomcats.”
The Robeson County Shriners have raised more then $4,000 this year from fundraisers to support 22 Shriner’s Hospitals for Children across the country. There are currently 38 children from Robeson County who benefit from the club’s efforts at those hospitals. The Shriner Hospitals’ services include treatment for burns, spinal cord injuries, cleft lip and pallets for children up to the age of 18 and birth defects.
During the past five years, the local Shrine has donated tens of thousands of dollars for the transportation of Shrine Kids to their closest hospitals in Greenville, S.C. The Shrine has eight vans, two of which are wheelchair accessible, enabling the club to contribute to about 300,000 outpatient visits and roughly 30,000 hospital admissions across the country. There is no charge for the families to ride the van to and from the hospital. To date, Shriners Hospitals for Children have helped nearly 1 million children.
“Regardless of a parents ability to pay, the kids will get care,” Wilson said. “Bottom line is that we do all this for the kids.”
But for Wilson, the best part might be the relationships formed through the Shriners efforts to help
“The two or three I’ve signed up mean a great deal to me,” Wilson said. “We’ve grown really close — like family. That’s the special part of all of this for me.”
Jerry Caulder, 58, of Rowland, attended with his son, Robert, who has been a Shrine Kid for about three years. The services provided by the Shrine have been a “godsend,” he said.
“It means the world to me,” Caulder said. “These people are tremendously gracious and friendly. You’re never around strangers. The kids and parents are like family to them. They’re No. 1 in my book.
“What they do for the kids is amazing. You don’t see too many people step out and do what they do for kids. What they do is a blessing.”