Workers from the Shearon Harris power plant in New Hill delivered more than 450 gifts for 49 people as part of the annual Wish Upon a Star project.
The plant employees, coming from several counties, including Wake and Johnston, have been part of the Christmas project for more than 10 years, working with Moncure School in Chatham County to find families in need.
Moncure School Guidance Counselor Michelle Mace said she chooses different families each year, based on needs that families express or those recommended by teachers.
She had a list for Senior Nuclear Plant Access Specialist at Shearon Harris and Wish Upon a Star project coordinator Patti Christopherson by October. Christopherson then assigned families to departments.
“It’s a wonderful gift just to know the children are getting nice things for Christmas,” Mace said. “Otherwise, they might not have anything.”
While the presents had the “to” place filled out on gift tags, the “from” was left blank for families to write in the names of gift givers.
“We’re kind of the silent partner here,” Christopherson said. While the plant workers have been participating in the project for so long, they haven’t ever asked for recognition.
Children and their family members will open presents Christmas morning to find gifts like Nintendo Wii and DSi game systems, bikes, legos, bath sets, clothes and gift cards to buy groceries totaling more than $10,000 in funds raised by Harris employees just as the 2010 refueling outage came to an end.
The extra money the employees received in their paychecks from overtime during the outage definitely helped, but Christopherson said the Shearon Harris plant workers continuously finds a way to make Christmas special for the families of Moncure.
“It makes you feel good. Every year (Shearon Harris employees) pull through,” she said. “It is really neat.”
As representatives from emergency planning, engineering, health physics, maintenance, operations, plant access, security and training departments loaded wrapped gifts into families’ cars, families were overjoyed by the show of generosity.
“Thank you so much,” one mother said, tear streaming down her face, as workers loaded a bike into the backseat of her car. “It means a lot to me.”
Some families suffered from lost jobs during the economic downturn while others had domestic violence issues.
“It means so much to me because we’ve been going through a really rough situation this year,” another mother said as she looked at a trunk full of presents for her two children.
Still, she said the greatest gift is knowing that her family will be together this Christmas.