ENC social services department hosts holiday decorating competition

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – An organization in Eastern Carolina wanted to boost morale and get employees into the holiday cheer this season, and to do so, it hosted a door decorating competition.

Any decorating contest calls for a bit of creativity and one supervisor wanted her door to represent more than just the Christmas spirit.

Kelli Clay’s door has gifts surrounding it.

It’s decorated as part of The Pitt County Department of Social Services door decorating competition, and it represents more than meets the eye.

“I’ve always said at Christmas time, we look like little elves because literally Christmas presents come in and we are grabbing them and taking them to kids and making sure they are getting everything they need. Santa needs lots of help this time of year,” Clay said.

Clay is a permanency planning supervisor at the Pitt County DSS, formerly known as foster care. She said that was the inspiration for her “permanency planning workshop” door and partial hallway decor.

Each one of the 233 wrapped boxes represents a child in the Pitt County Permanency Planning Program, and each elf represents the employees that work with the kids in their care.

“It’s one thing to hear a number, but to actually have something you can see in front of you, to have that visual is so much more impactful,” Clay said.

Funds for the Christmas gifts are not allocated by the government. All the gifts delivered to children are donated or bought with monetary donations. So it’s up to the social workers to deliver the toys.

“The social workers do so much. The social workers act sometimes as the parent, they act as the disciplinarian, they act as a confidant. They do so much. They are the bridge that allows these to get permanence,” Rhonda Dawson, the permanency planning program manager said.

Dawson said the 233 kids they currently care for is the highest number they’ve had since 2017.

“It’s important to note that even though we are taking care of these kids for the holidays and we take care of them every day, these kids do ultimately want to be home,” Dawson said. “They want to be with their families. So it’s a substitute and it’s a way we try to bring a piece of joy to them and also to families that do have these children – to assist them as well.”