Smithfield Town Councilman Marlon Lee celebrated his birthday on December 6th. For his birthday, Lee challenged everyone he knew to donate $6 or multiples of $6 to raise funds to buy toys for needy children at Christmas. Within days, $1,300 was raised and dozens of toys were donated.
On Wednesday, with the help of about 15 volunteers, Councilman Lee, dressed as Santa Claus, handed out toys and food boxes to just over 100 needy families at the Smithfield Progressive Men’s Club.
“It was a wonderful event. To see the smiles on the little kids faces (while they were) looking at the tallest Santa Claus they’ve ever seen,” Councilman Lee said. “I hope it will be an annual event and hope it will be even bigger next year. It was a total team effort.”
Most of the families assisted were from Smithfield, Selma and Clayton. Some came from as far away as Goldsboro and Wilson.
“I just wanted my birthday present to bless the community,” Lee said.
Three hundred toys were handed out to the 100 families providing presents to approximately 150 children. For some of the children, this is the only Christmas presents they will receive this year.
Families were also thankful for the food boxes. Some of the parents have found themselves unemployed this holiday season.
Volunteers included members of the girls basketball team at Clayton High where Mr. Lee coaches. Parents of some of the players and two assistant coaches also volunteered Wednesday handing out gifts and food boxes.
At Thanksgiving, Councilman Lee spearheaded a turkey giveaway. He also hopes to repeat that giveaway again next November.