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Christmas with the Yarborough-O’Neal Home in Zebulon, NC

Retirement Home In Need [Preface] --- The Yarborough-O’Neal Home in Zebulon is an assisted living facility. It currently houses 39 elderly women & 18 elderly men. In many ways, these elderly people are just like children…many are unable to help themselves and have no one and/or no where to turn for assistance. The home gets almost all of the residents' money (retirements, pensions, financial assistance, etc) in exchange for somewhere clean and warm to stay and all of the things required to provide them a comfortable environment and the physical support they need. Earlier in life, these people were professionals, farmers, veterans of foreign wars, have raised families, etc…these are people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, people are often put in (or end up in) homes and seemingly forgotten. Most all of them are cognizant of what is going on around them and very aware that they are left all alone during Christmas (and most other times). This is sad to see, and an all too common miserable existence. Many of these folks have little or no family, and lack even the very basic of items that we all take for granted in daily life…things like Anti-perspirant, handkerchiefs, socks, q-tips, soap, etc. These items are not furnished by the facility, and the individuals generally have so little money that they can’t help themselves with the basics.

For those who don't know, Debbie is the President of Scootworks. Debbie’s father is in this home, we’re out there to visit almost every day, and try to help out where we can. We’ve repaired sunglasses, put batteries in clocks, labeled clothing, found lost items, talked to management about conditions, and even been called to cut a lock off of a cabinet where an elderly lady had accidentally locked her personal possessions in and then couldn’t find the key.

Debbie was talking with the manager recently learned, after a Christmas routine of many years, they wouldn't be able to prepare their annual Christmas dinner for these people this year. There is also no money for any Christmas events. Due to budget cuts, personnel cutbacks, most of their suppliers’ donation budgets drying up, and a general lack of funding, they simply would not have the food or money for it. In addition, they usually get donations of a few extra hams and other items from their suppliers for the Christmas Eve meal and the days that surround Christmas that these folks look forward to, but they had received no contributions this year. Debbie and Joyce (another Scootworker) had quietly started working on a plan to do something for these people. It quickly became obvious that it would be difficult to make a significant difference for this many people at Christmas via the contributions of a few people. On Sunday December 14th, Debbie and I decided we needed to try and do something, despite our own issues with the economic slowdown and lack of funds for this sort of activity...

A Call for help [The Reaching Out] --- We sat down on Sunday afternoon and composed a letter to send out to various local organizations we are members of, internet discussion forums we manage, and to our own employees. We tried to remind everyone about these people, and the fact that all Christmas events seem to be slanted towards Children. We agreed that, while Christmas is largely for Children and their needs, there are other groups such as these people who could really use the friendship and help during this Christmas season. On Monday, we also made phone calls to local businesses and groups in search of help for this activity. Commitments of money, supplies, food, manpower, and other things began to come in...almost immediately. Debbie picked up the task and tirelessly managed the entire project. There was a lot of work to do, and not much time to get it done.

The Following Week [Work & Preparation] --- Wow...the following week was laden with work for many people... Many of our own employees donated money for purchasing of items for gifts and food, supplies, and lots of manpower to assemble everything. Folks from Scootworks, the Raleigh Durham R/C (, The Triangle East Amateur Radio Association (, and the NCVulcan & Friends group ( were out shopping for gift items, food, wrapping and packaging materials, etc. Folks were running around, pulling everything together, for a "mass gift packaging" operation. Many of the Scootworks employees worked late on Thursday night (December 18th) until around 9pm, and got all of the gifts wrapped and ready for the next day. On the 19th, loads of food that was prepared by Scootworkers assembled and plated in the kitchen at Scootworks.

The First Event [December 19th] --- The first big day for the folks at the Yarborough-O’Neal Home in Zebulon had arrived! Volunteers, Friends, and Scootworks employees headed over to the home around 2:30 pm to begin setting up large spread of food and gifts. David Hedrick brought out his Bluegrass band and set up. Around 3:00 pm, we began to get everyone served. There was lots of food to go around, and we made sure everyone had all they wanted of it. Santa arrived and was in wait... David got everyone rev'ed up and singing Jingle Bells, and Santa made his appearance. As always, Santa is a BIG hit everywhere he goes! Santa and his helpers distributed loads of gifts to everyone, and made a jolly exit. David got the band kicked off, and continued to play through the afternoon. The played lots of music that everyone recognized, and many were clapping, tapping, and singing along. We finally wound the first day's events down and cleaned up. We left behind smiling faces, folks who had a good Christmas event and received some things that they needed and/or could use, and lots of snacks for the residents.

The Second Event [December 22nd] --- The next big day for the folks at the Yarborough-O’Neal Home in Zebulon is to be a HotDog dinner from the Corner Grille.

The Third Event [December 24th] --- The third big day for the folks at the Yarborough-O’Neal Home in Zebulon is to be a Christmas Feast to write home about.

Donations [Community Support] --- Gosh... where do I start? In addition to all of the personal donations from individuals, manpower for preparations, supplies pickup and delivery, legwork to find items, etc...there was much in the form of goods, money, & supplies from various businesses and sources:

  • Martha Snyder, a member of the GlaxoSmithKline Riders group (a motorcycle discussion group managed by Scootworks), got the message and paid for the Christmas Day Feast from their "Share Your Christmas" program. Martha went shopping with the manager of the Yarborough-O’Neal Home to purchase all of the meats and other items to make a truly wonderful Christmas Eve feast for the nearly 60 residents of the home.

  • Various members of RDRC donated money to help out, and the RDRC treasury donated even more money. This was used to buy gift items, and provide food for the events on December 19th & 22nd. David Hedrick also pulled his Bluegrass band together and put on a great show for the residents during the December 19th event.

  • Various members of TEARA donated gift items for the residents, and Norman Young (also from TEARA) just _happened_ to know how to contact Santa for a visit during the December 19th event.

  • Various members of the NCVulcan & Friends group donated gift items for the residents.

  • Brian Bullock, of the Corner Grille in Zebulon, sold us food at a discount and agreed to provide free catering to the home on 12/22/08. The residents will have a fine hotdog dinner...something different from their normal routine for the residents. Any of you who have been to Scootworks, East R/C, or live in Zebulon and have eaten at the Corner Grille _KNOW_ what I'm talking about!

  • Helicopter Consulting Services donated money to help with the Christmas Activities.

  • Vess Aero donated money to help with the Christmas Activities.

  • The Country Hearth Inn in Knightdale donated lots of supplies to help with the Christmas gifts.

  • Kohl's Department Store in Knightdale gave us a 30% discount on all clothing and items purchased as gifts for the Christmas for the Home!

  • Miller Plumbing from Lexington donated money to help out with the event, and Steve Miller came over on the 19th to give some hands-on help with the activity.

  • Click the thumbnails to view pics and see media

    Santa's remote workshop @ ScootWorks

    The Scootworks Elves & Friends at work!

    Dave Hedrick & the Bluegrass Band

    Santa's in 'da house!

    The First Big Day, 12/19/08

    Video of The First Big Day

    Additional info in the Eastern Wake News by Aaron Moody, 12/31/08
    . .

    Thanks TO ALL! --- We can't possibly give enough thanks to those who donated time, money, gifts, supplies, services, etc for the Yarborough-O’Neal home's Christmas. Seeing all of the smiling faces, tapping toes and clapping hands, hearing the laughter, and hearing the thanks from everyone... Despite the level of exhaustion from rushing 3 events with one week of preparation, the results made it all worthwhile, and is what the true spirit of Christmas is about.

    -Debbie & The Entire Scootworks/East RC Staff