Prime your holiday appetite at the Taste of Christmas
By Samantha Lyles
Get the holiday season off to a festive and delicious start by attending the Taste of Christmas dining event, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 12, at First Baptist Church of Darlington. All proceeds from this all-you-can-eat affair will go to a wonderful cause – spreading cheer among children in need through the Children’s Christmas Fund. “We started doing this four years ago to help kids in the community,” says Taste of Christmas organizer Capt. Perry Kelly of the Darlington Fire Department. “We had been doing donations and boot drives, but those boot drives were held out on the main highways and it was very dangerous, so we started looking at other ways to have fundraisers for the toy fund.” Since everyone loves great food, it seemed a perfect solution to stage a community cookout, featuring food from some of Darlington’s best grillers and bakers in an outdoor setting filled with music and fellowship. “It’s been really successful so far,” Kelly says, adding that the variety of food and treats remains a big draw for guests. “We have over 20 different cooks preparing all kinds of food and beverages. We have churches, restaurants and lots of people wanting to help out. There’ll be everything from hamburgers and chicken wings to cakes and cookies.” Those looking for value won’t be disappointed. Kelly says that for just $10 per person, guests can hop from booth to booth and sample wares until they fill up their plates. And if they’re still hungry after one lap, they can repeat the process until they’re good and stuffed with all manner of yummy fare. “If you leave hungry, it’s your own fault,” says Kelly. Kids under 6 can eat for free, and since it’s a family event, no alcohol will be sold or served. Tickets will be sold at the event for a prize drawing, with a pull-behind grill offered as the grand prize. All proceeds from the Taste of Christmas go to purchase toys and gifts for around 100 local children who might otherwise go without. Applications are now being taken for Children’s Christmas Fund families, though there is a vetting process to ensure no one exploits the program. “During the first week of December, we have an interview process. … A committee will talk to the family members and determine that they did not get help last year. We try to help newcomers first, but if we have extra or have enough, they we will help those from last year, too,” says Kelly. Gift wish lists are based on the children’s age and interests, so if a boy prefers Tonka trucks to footballs, his Christmas gifts should fit the bill. Normally, these gifts are distributed to the families on the weekend before Christmas, so the families have plenty of time to make arrangements with Santa. If you’d like to make a tax deductible donation, mail a check to: Darlington Fire Department, 301 Orange St., Darlington, SC 29532 – and please write “TOY FUND” in the memo section. To apply for the Children’s Christmas Fund, visit the Darlington Fire Department at 301 Orange St. to obtain and complete an application from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, from Nov. 1-30. The Darlington Fire Department’s Taste of Christmas is Nov. 12, from 6-8 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 216 S. Main St. Tickets are $10 each. If you would like to sponsor or cook for the event, please contact Kelly at 843-229-5788.