Kevin Roberge wants to transform the pain from his childhood into something that brings hope to hundreds of children in the Triangle.
With a little help from Santa and dozens of volunteers, Roberge has a plan to create the world’s biggest Christmas stocking – full of gifts for abused and neglected children.
“I want children to come away with a little bit of Christmas spirit that lasts a lifetime,” said Roberge, 38, who lives in Apex works as the CEO of Imaginigami, a creative think tank in Raleigh.
It’s hot outside, and nobody is thinking about Christmas. But it takes lots of planning to break the world record for the largest stocking. Event sponsors Imaginigami and the Friends of the Wake County Guardian ad Litem program are looking for donors and sponsors to get on board by July 30.
The Christmas County Fair is planned for the first two weekends in December at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Visitors to the fair can stuff the stocking with gifts, and it can hold a lot – it’s set to be 180 feet long and 110 feet wide.
The gifts will then be given to kids associated with Friends of the Wake County Guardian ad Litem, which advocates for children in the court system.
Roberge knows what it’s like to be in foster care. He was in the New Hampshire system when he started giving back to others.
“I knew a lot of kids who didn’t get gifts at Christmas, so I shared some of mine,” Roberge said.
Imaginigami staff tried to get the project off the ground last year. But when Carrie Haub, development director for the fair, hit on the idea of putting gifts for needy children into the stocking, plans began to snowball.
“In addition to being able to actually go inside the world’s largest Christmas stocking ... there will be non-stop entertainment with Santa himself,” said Haub, who lives in Cary.
The Friends of the Wake County Guardian ad Litem program collects Christmas gifts for kids every year. As president of the organization and a court-appointed special advocate for foster children, I like the idea of having the gifts in one place.
Last year, my home was among the many sites across Wake County that stored gifts until they could be distributed. Storage limitations and not having enough volunteers meant the nonprofit had to turn some children away.
This year, a giant stocking at the fairgrounds and increased awareness about the program will bring holiday magic to more needy children.
“I don’t know if the Christmas County Fair will change a kid’s life with presents, but it will give them hope and help them feel normal for just a day,” Roberge said.