HOSPITAL-BOUND PATIENTS GIVEN TEDDY BEARS AS LITTLE FURRY COMPANIONS: Had she her druthers, Wynell Richardson would be spending Christmas at home with her husband of 63 years. But the eighth floor of Rex Hospital grew two shades brighter Sunday morning when a pair of children laid a teddy bear on her lap. A heart patient from Nashville, Richardson will pass her holiday in a telemetry bed, watching Raleigh’s holiday lights twinkle out her window. But when Chase and John Pittman brought her gift, she found new comfort to recuperate by. “I’m a whole lot better now,” said Richardson, 83. “They can keep me here until they get me right.” As the hours until Christmas ticked nearer, the volunteer Rex Guild brought presents to nearly every patient in the hospital, a tradition that dates to 1936. Before bears, the gift of choice for 20-plus years, they brought poinsettias.
RALEIGH AREA BIKERS COLLECT AND DONATE TOYS FOR NEEDY CHILDREN: Not every child gets a luxurious Christmas. But several Triangle motorcycle clubs come together every year to make the season brighter for local children. Children were delivered toys through the 10th Annual "Stuff the Trailer Event," hosted by Turning Point Motorcycle Club. "I've been in the bike world since about 1993, this by far is the best event I've ever been a part of," said Rodney Long, president of Evolution Motorcycle Club. The project is the culmination many members' hard work, as club members camped out at a Walmart parking lot for a week. They waited for toy donations from the public, some of them waiting through the night. "Doing something for somebody else, doing something for the community, doing something else for kids that may not have someone else to do it for them, that's our Christmas."
POPE FRANCIS DEDICATES HIS CHRISTMAS MESSAGE TO THE CHILDREN: We see Jesus in the many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers. Through their eyes we see the drama of all those forced to emigrate and risk their lives to face exhausting journeys that end at times in tragedy. I see Jesus again in the children I met during my recent visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and it is my hope that the international community will not cease to work to ensure that the dignity of the minority groups present in the region is adequately protected. Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one's head. May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem.
BURLINGTON CHURCH FOLLOWS UP MISSION TO PUERTO RICO WITH CONTINUING EFFORT: The trip, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2, focused on rebuilding and providing necessary goods to individuals in areas of greatest need on the island. The group spent three days working at a seminary in Rio Piedras, a subsect of San Juan and then a few more days working in the mountains of Utuado. “They were really hard hit,” said Yvette Gaboury, one of the individuals who traveled to the island. “The first day we were there, it was devastating to see. We were at the seminary for the first three days. We would arrive by 9, and we would leave like 4:30 or 5 o’clock. That whole time we were working together in different teams focusing on the different priorities that they had set out. Just in one day, you could already see the difference.” “At the seminary, it was all manual labor, like cutting down trees, debris removal, painting and cleaning out an apartment that had been damaged so that it was ready for another individual coming to the seminary,” added Patrick Mills, another Front Street member on the trip.
RESCUE DOG ENDS UP BEING MIRACLE WORKER FOR BOY WITH EPILEPSY: It startled Mandy Rogers the first time Toby tried to help. He was jumping on Parker, nipping at his mother’s hands, and trying to herd the family into one room. Mandy called a dog trainer for advice, worried about this strange, erratic behavior — then Parker had a seizure. It turned out that Toby was trying to get Parker to sit down because he could sense a seizure coming, and was trying to alert Mandy of what was about to happen. Since then, Toby has learned how to fetch emergency seizure medication for Parker; he’ll also run to get Parker’s mom when a seizure is coming on. “I could finally sleep in my room alone, just me and Toby,” Parker wrote in his story to Petco. “I can go out and ride my bike, just me and Toby. Toby’s life changed, too. He went from a being a stray dog, to a rescue, to the most important part of my medical team.”