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Santa makes Ironton stop

And that’s what prompted Big Sandy Superstores chairman Robert Vanhoose to rally local residents and businesses Saturday into spreading a little Christmas cheer and encouragement to local plant workers facing an uncertain employment future.

Saturday, December 18, 1999

And that’s what prompted Big Sandy Superstores chairman Robert Vanhoose to rally local residents and businesses Saturday into spreading a little Christmas cheer and encouragement to local plant workers facing an uncertain employment future.

When everybody comes together, it can spread the burden among all and keep families from losing hope, Vanhoose said.

Sharon Baptist Church pastor Steve Harvey, whose congregation helped staff the party, kicked off the festivities at 1 p.m. with such a message from the Bible.

In Romans, it says God can turn a difficult problem into good, Harvey said.

"We are a community that rallies, that thrives on adversity and we will make it, this I promise, only with the Lord’s help," he said, then led everyone in prayer.

Afterward, volunteers made dozens upon dozens of children laugh with impromptu games.

Local singers kept families entertained with Christmas, country and gospel music.

Brightly-wrapped presents made the rounds from registration tables to children’s paper-ripping hands.

Although this year’s loss of 1,000 jobs in the city prompted the party, few tears were shed.

"We’re happy to be here," said Mrs. Myers, who’s now taking classes at Collins Career Center. "It’s like a homecoming for us from Cabletron. And for people who have kids, it’s a good thing.

"I just hope more people will pull together for us to try and find somebody to put in that building and give us a job."

Marnie Carter, who had been a forklift driver at Ironton Iron for four years, said she probably will take classes, too, once the foundry shuts down in February.

"The way I feel, I won’t worry until the day comes," she said. "But this lifts our spirits."

Saturday’s party was a surprise, too, but not unbelievable, she added.

"As a town, Ironton can come together, because this not only affects Ironton Iron workers but everybody."

And when everything’s said and done, after Christmas, families will find a way to make it through, Mrs. Wilson said.

In fact, her job with Rock Hill Schools will keep the family with some income and insurance, but there are many families who must look to replace both after February, she said.

"The Lord’s always made a way before and that’s what we have to believe."