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St. James Sports Center celebrates at 15th annual Christmas party

POSTED: December 20, 2011 7:00 a.m.
John Wood/

Nahtae Thompson, Chatonia Johnson, Ernie Walthour Jr. and LaMink Grant are volunteers at St. James Sports Center’s after-school program.

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The spirit of Christmas was alive as St. James Sports Center in Holmestown hosted its 15th annual Christmas party and dinner Wednesday night.

St. James hosts the party to provide gifts to the children of Gabriel’s House, St. James after-school group and the children of Holmestown.

“We have been doing this for 15 years, and we are just so blessed to be able to give the gifts,” St. James Sports Center Director Ernie Walthour Jr. said. “I just really want to thank Osteen and Osteen for funding this program and the United Way for all of their help. Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes helped us with the food, and it’s hard to put on something like this without someone like Pastor Marvin Kelly.”

The after-school program at St. James gives area students a chance to get help with homework, play, be around positive role models and have good fellowship. The program also provides the children with a meal before they go home.

The after-school program is available to all kids for free.

“We have seen the program double in size. I really appreciate how hard my staff works here — they do a great job,” Walthour said.

The students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program, however. The volunteers gain experience that will help them in future endeavors.

“I enjoy helping and being a volunteer. It helps fulfill my community service requirement for graduation, but it helps with working with the kids because I want to be a nurse,” program volunteer LaMink Grant said. “We help kids with their homework and we also monitor them, and I believe the things we are doing will help me in nursing.”

The sheriff praised Walthour’s work with the after-school program.

“This program is great — it is changing lives,” Sikes said. “You check the track record of this program for the last 15 years and you would be amazed.

“This is one of the most blessed events I attend all year. I turned down two other engagements to be here tonight because it’s such a blessing to see the great things going on here.

“I think the Osteen family should be commended for the support they provide to such a great cause. Tonight blesses me as much as anything all year.”

 

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