2019 NAACP Christmas Open House

Daniel Dye / The Herald

People line up for a Christmas meal at the Elmore County NAACP annual open house.

Many use the holiday season as a time to spread cheer and bless others. That was the mission for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Elmore County branch last week.

The NAACP branch hosted its annual open house at Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Center Dec. 17 to assist individuals and families who need help providing a Christmas meal and to spread goodwill and fellowship.

“At our open house, we invite people from the community and our members,” branch president Bobby Mays said. “We give them a status of what we are doing for the coming year. One of the highlights is we bless families with Christmas baskets. Each basket has either a ham or turkey and other trimmings for Christmas.”

Mays said he encouraged members and leaders of Branch 5026 to reach beyond their close friends and church and work circles when extending an invitation.

“I really try to impress on our members and our executive committee to look beyond the circles of where they work and play,” Mays said. “If they see a family who can benefit from a basket, I try to tell them, ‘Don’t just look for folks who look like you; don’t just look for folks who go to your church.’”

Mays said the event, which is in its sixth year, has brought in people who are not members of the organization.

“You’ll find last year, and this year, we’ve had more people who were not members or co-workers of the members attend,” he said.

Mays looked out at those gathered and realized he did not know several people who arrived early.

“Hopefully our guests will go from here and tell others about our open house.”

Mays and other members want the branch to be viewed as a community organization for everyone.

“I want this to be a community thing where anybody and everybody knows the NAACP is not a black organization,” he said. “It is an organization concerned with civil rights for all people. That’s what we do.

“When we reach out in the community, especially to people who don’t look like us, when they see us and hear us, I am hopeful they go and talk to others who look like them, who work where they work. It’s about being known, so when something happens in the community and the NAACP is there, people know.”

Mays said the Elmore County branch also serves Coosa County and Autauga County because those counties do not have an active branch.

The branch participated in a variety of community services projects in 2019, including a disaster relief drive that benefitted the county food pantry, a school supply for Wetumpka Elementary School, a health screening event in conjunction with Ivy Creek Healthcare, an Elmore County veterans event and more.