t600-ANCCelebrationPosterThe inaugural Hometown Christmas Celebration, special holiday celebration and fundraiser for the Haywood Pathways Center, will take place from 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec.13, in the auditorium at Haywood Community College.

From 2 to 4 p.m. and from 5 to 8:30 p.m., children can mingle with Santa’s elves while they wait to meet the Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will be face painting, activities and crafts. For a $4 donation, parents can take photos of their child with Santa Claus using their personal camera or smartphone.

There will be a holiday table with local treats like fudge, candy apples, cakes, cookies and hot chocolate. Haywood Vocational Opportunities (HVO) will be selling handmade Christmas ornaments, with all proceeds going to Next Step Ministries. There will also be artisan crafts and gifts for sale.

The main event will be the musical performances by local musicians. The special guest of the evening will be Tim Surrett, recent winner of the International Bluegrass Association’s 2014 Mentor of the Year Award. Other featured musicians will be McKayla Reece, Eddie Rose and Highways Forty, the music group Subject 2 Change and Matthew Curry and The Carolina Two.

The guest speaker will be Sheriff Greg Christopher.

“We’re using all community folks to drive this event,” said Joy Simmons, event coordinator.

The staff at Sellars Florist in Canton will donate their time to decorate the auditorium for the event and Santa Claus services, provided by Smoky Mountain Santa, will be provided free of charge. Rip and Wanda Starnes, local artists from Lake Junaluska, have designed Christmas and lighthouse cards and have donated artwork to the event.

Simmons is excited to be coordinating the event and is happy to be able to do something to give to the Haywood Pathways Center.

“The vision of this project is one of the best visions I’ve ever seen or heard, and I’ve done lots of projects through my career [as a business executive],” she said. “Just because you don’t see homelessness doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because you don’t see children under a bridge doesn’t mean there aren’t homeless children. There is a lot of need in the community.”

She also believes that everyone in the community has something they can give to the project.

“Everybody has something to give,” said Simmons. “It may not be financial, but it could be volunteer, they may have knowledge to help train these folks [at the Haywood Pathways Center], like how to apply for a job online or how to use a computer, or someone can minister to them.”

“And schools,” she added. “I think it’s important to teach the generation today what was taught to our generation — to give back. You work hard and you give back to your community. There will always be a need for volunteers somewhere in the county.”

Tickets cost $8 and are available at Sid’s on Main, Ammon’s Drive Inn and Dairy Bar and The Mountaineer. Those wishing to donate new items or have questions may email nextstepministriesinc@gmail.com or call 356-5432.

Simmons is currently looking for food donations. Anybody who would like to donate food or artisan gifts or would like to be part of the event can email joy.b.simmons@outlook.com.

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