Three decades of Christmas cheer: Newton police host Senior Citizens Holiday Luncheon
NEWTON, N.C. – No one remembers exactly when it started, but it’s been about 30 years since the Newton Police Department started inviting Newton’s seniors to a holiday feast each year before Christmas.
This year was no different, as seniors, council members, city staff and police officers saddled up to brightly-decorated tables at Newton Recreation Center on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Although the seniors may have been moving a little slower than they did years ago, their spirits were lively as they sat and talked with their neighbors and enjoyed first-rate service from the uniformed police officers and staff who took their orders and brought them their drinks, entrees and desserts.
“We try to pamper them and make them feel special,” Newton Police Lt. Nikki Lineberger said.
The honored guests are members of the police department’s call list. Members telephone the police department every morning to let officers know they’re all right. If someone on the list fails to call, officers try to reach the person by phone. When anyone on the list cannot be reached by phone, an officer heads to the person’s home to make sure he or she is well.
The Rev. Fred Thompson, who led a prayer before the meal, half-jokingly described himself as the problem child of the call list.
“They keep a pretty close check on me,” he said. “I think I’m their bad boy because pretty often they can’t find me,” he said.
The crowd broke into laughter when Thompson described a morning officers were unable to find him. The incident lead to a series telephone calls to Thompson’s family across the country before one of his sons was able to track him down and tell him to call the police department.
“I care for every one of them and appreciate every one of them,” Thompson said of Newton’s men and women in blue.
After the seniors lunched on chicken pie, country style steak, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, rolls, pumpkin crunch cake, pumpkin pie, and yellow cake with chocolate icing, Newton Police Chief Don Brown stood to draw numbers for prizes. Each guest went home with assorted special gifts including robes, fruit baskets and gift cards, as well as a gift bag.
The police department’s call list was started 33 years ago by Brown’s predecessor, retired Chief James Masters. Brown said his officers look forward to coming together with Newton’s seniors and having the chance to give them some extra attention every year around Christmastime.
“It’s nice for us because a lot of the people here are in the call list program, are people that we go check on,” Lineberger said. “It’s good for us to put faces with the names.”
If you would like to join the city of Newton’s call list, call the police department at 828-465-7430 and ask to speak with someone in records.