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Presents wait while Raglands serve

December 23, 1999

Editor's note: For these 12 days before Christmas we have been recognizing individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others. This is the last in the series.

Robert Ragland Jr.By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




At the Ragland's, presents and Christmas dinner wait until after the family has helped cook for more than 1,000 people.

If all goes as planned this Christmas morning, Robert Ragland Jr. will wake up at 5. He'll get his children, who will "jump out of bed," and then they'll all go to the Four Points Sheraton Hotel.

cont. from front page

For the past 12 or 13 years Ragland, 35, of Hagerstown, has volunteered at the annual free Christmas dinner at the Four Points.

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"I get the potatoes out. ... Get the corn out of the freezer. ... Put all the stuff in the oven," Ragland said.

"Then I carry it out and make sure the buffets are full.

"I love it. I really enjoy it,'' he said. "I always look forward to it every year. It makes you feel warm in your heart."

Ragland will probably wait until most everyone else has eaten their share of ham and turkey before he sits down to eat.

"It's really good to see people come in there," he said.

"It's for everyone,'' he said. "It's for anybody that wants a nice hot dinner and comfort."

"It's good that Nick and George do this every year," Ragland said about Four Points owner Nick Giannaris and Turner Taxi owner George Turner who team up to provide the Christmas dinner.

Ragland's three children - Robert, 15, Mark, 12, Heather, 11 - help wash the dishes, and don't go home until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

Ragland said his children have been going to the annual event with him "since my little girl was in a high chair."

"I want my kids to see some kids wake up with nothing under the tree."

"Some kids have nothing to eat. They should be thankful for what they have," he said.

Ragland, a truck driver, remembers when he was poor.

"We were lucky if we had little army men to play with. I remember when the Salvation Army brought us toys to play with," he said.

"Thinking back to what it was like when I was a kid, it makes you want to help someone else," he said.

"It's the best time of the year."

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