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Burke group makes sure sick child does not miss Christmas

By Mary Elizabeth Robertson
(Morganton) News Herald

When local law enforcement officials with a holiday drive called Operation Blue Christmas heard one boy wasn’t going to make it home by Christmas, they took Christmas to him.

Last Tuesday, members of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina State Troopers of Burke County and Morganton Public Safety took presents, Christmas trees and decorations to three deserving families. But one family was unable to come home to see the presents.

Darren Tate, 9, has leukemia. While law enforcement delivered gifts to his home, Darren was receiving treatment at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.

He was supposed to come home Friday. Over the weekend, those who participated in delivering Darren’s gifts found out he wasn’t able to come home because of a fever. They decided to deliver the gifts to him so he would have them in time for Christmas.

Without Darren knowing, Trooper V. Vinson, Sgt. Keith Bowman with Morganton Public Safety, Burke County Sheriff’s investigators Donny Dellinger and Chris Collins, and Trooper Greg Gentieu made their way to the Winston-Salem hospital armed with presents.

“He was happy, but you could tell he was getting tired,” Bowman said. “He was happy and smiling.”

The officers also had another surprise.

They had used some extra money and visited other children who were in the hospital and brought gifts for them as well.

“We all chipped in and got a few more gifts as well,” Vinson said. “We figured it might be good to cheer them up.

“It was a joy to be able to put a smile on their faces,” he said.

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