Christmas isn’t the only thing taking over the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Saturday. Generosity will be waiting on the doorstep.
On Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., Wilkes County Zombie Response will be conducting Operation Zombie Claus in conjunction with Fairfield Inn’s annual Winter Craft and Wine Festival at 628 CC Camp Road in Elkin.
Ghosts of Christmases past are hoped to be banished by the zombies, who will be gathering unwrapped toys for the Ebenezer Christian Children’s Home.
Founded in 1944, ECCH was established to help local children displaced due to abuse and neglect.
“This is my way of giving back to the ones who need it most,” said head Zombie Shawn Groce, “the kids that don’t have homes to go to for the holidays or families to spend them with.”
Groce has experience with children who are out of their element during the holidays due to his younger brother’s health concerns.
“My brother spent his whole life growing up in the hospital,” said Groce, whose brother was a national ambassador for the March of Dimes in the late 1990s.
This experience influenced Groce to not only be thankful for what he has, but to share it.
“My family is warm in the winter, cool in the summer and we eat when we’re hungry. We don’t have much,” said Groce, “but we have each other and we have our health.
“I personally don’t have the money to do big things for the community, but I have enough friends that we can really make a difference when we all come together with a common goal in mind.”
Among those friends is Michael Wilson, regional director of Riverview Holdings Inc., which operates four local award-winning hotels including Fairfield Inn and Suites.
“Michael Wilson has been such a huge help over the past couple of years by allowing me to use Fairfield’s facilities to host Operation Zombie Claus,” said Groce.
Operation Zombie Claus collects toys for the children’s home, but it also does more.
“This year the children’s homes of Surry and Yadkin are bringing their kids up [to Fairfield Inn] for OZC,” said Groce, who, with the help of Wilson, will provide a pizza lunch for the children that day.
The kids also will be able to have their faces painted and visit with Santa, however they are not the only ones welcome to visit the jolly elf.
Fairfield Inn’s annual Winter Craft and Wine Festival is a free event open to all ages.
A variety of craft vendors will be dispersed throughout the wonderland created in the lobby with seven Yadkin Valley wineries offering free tastings to guest older than 21 with a valid ID.
“There will be fun for the entire family,” said Wilson. “We have Santa Claus handing out stockings, arts and crafts in the main lobby, and local vineyards and vendors set up in the meeting room.
“For our annual Winter Wine and Craft Bazaar, our goal here at Fairfield Inn and Suites is to have something for everyone on Saturday, so we invite everyone in the community to come join us.”
“It gets a little bigger every year,” said Groce, eager to see how the community supports the children this year.
For more information on the Ebenezer Christian Children’s Home, go to ebenezerfamily.org.
To find out more about the Winter Wine and Craft Festival at Fairfield Inn and Suites, call 336-353-2008.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.