Submitted by Charles Pringle
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino
Harrah’s Cherokee Senior Cook Kerry Jachim didn’t know when she donated a toy to the annual employee Toys for Tots drive that she and her husband, Ron, would be whisked off to Asheville in a limousine a week later with $1,000 to spend on additional toys for the WNC Marine Corps.
Every Harrah’s Cherokee employee who donated a toy to Toys for Tots during the first two weeks of the annual toy drive had a chance to win the $1,000 VIP Elf Shopping Spree in a random drawing. Kerry, who lives in Cherokee’s Big Cove Community, was the lucky winner.
“I was really surprised,” Kerry said. “I’ve always participated in the employee drive because it feels good to know that you’re making Christmas a lot brighter for a child somewhere. But I never expected to win the Harrah’s Cherokee Santa’s VIP Elf for a Day contest. I never win anything!”
As the limousine pulled up to the Dancing Bear Toy Store on Tunnel Road, the owners were waiting to greet her. The Evers family, which also owns a store in Hendersonville, offered Kerry “directions” on where to find certain kinds of toys in the store and a 30 percent discount on everything she purchased for the USMC toy drive. Inside the store, SSGT. Ronnie Sprouse and PFC. Matthew Miller met Kerry with a stack of empty shopping baskets and carried her purchases as she thoughtfully shopped for as many children as her $1,000 could cover. “Santa picked a good elf,” Kerry’s husband, Ron, told the two Marines. “She’s a professional shopper.”
The VIP Elf for a Day employee promotion helps us get an early idea of how many toys we will have this year for our annual employee toy drive,” said Harrah’s Cherokee Vice President Jo Blaylock. “The special VIP day included limousine service to Asheville, lunch at the Grove Park Inn and $1,000 for the employee to spend at the Dancing Bear Toy Store to buy more gifts for the Marine’s drive.”
Randy Hughes, coordinator of the Toys for Tots drive in the far western counties, said support from Harrah’s Cherokee employees was more important than ever this year. “We have fewer toys this year and a greater number of children in need.” This is the fourth year Harrah’s Cherokee employees have participated in the drive. Each year, employees have donated more than 1,000 toys. The employee drive will end Dec. 18 with a Christmas caroling bucket brigade, as employees line up and pass each toy to waiting USMC vehicles.