By Randy Foster/New Bern Post Publisher

Teresa Caelen of Reelsboro in Pamlico County was wary when the caller asked if “Tig” was there on Friday.

Teresa goes by Tig but didn’t recognized the voice or the phone number on the caller ID.

“Yes,” she said. “Who’s calling?”

“This is Randy Foster with New Bern Post,” I said.

“OK,” she answered, still wary. “This is Tig.”

I could just feel her suspicions so I got to the point.

“I’m calling to tell you that you’re the winner of the Craven Street Gift Basket Giveaway.

Her suspicions gave way to joy on this one lucky Friday the 13th.

The basket is worth about $500 in cash, gift cards, and merchandise all donated by the merchants of Craven Street for this sweepstakes giveaway.

Winner Teresa Caelen of Reelsboro, left, shows a print and two paintings that were included in her gift basket. Her daughter Samantha Manning is with her. New Bern Post photo by Mark Foster

Signups for the drawing lasted a full month and ended on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The drawing was held on a Craven Street sidewalk next to a parking lot on an overcast day. Wendy Card of New Bern Now, a person whom everyone trusts, was asked to draw the winning ticket.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, Teresa and her daughter Samantha Manning met me and my son, Mark Foster, who took pictures, to deliver her gift basket.

This has been a hard year for Teresa. A Craven Community College-trained medical office administrator, she lost her job in July two weeks shy of her eighth anniversary. She’s been looking for work ever since.

Although a trained medical office administrator, she can “do anything I can be taught,” she said.

Meanwhile, Teresa has been spending her time hand-making protective masks; she made the one she wore when she picked up her basket on Tuesday.

Teresa wears a mask of her own creation.

You can buy one of her masks on her Facebook page, Momma T’s Custom Creations, which also sells car decals, T-shirt vinyl, Christmas ornaments, and all sorts of odd and ends. She does personalization for all seasons and holidays.

She’ll sell a mask to a mother and then give masks to all her children. She’ll also hand out masks free on the street if need be.

She and her daughter were shopping for a wedding dress at Blush Boutique, a bridal store on Craven Street that participated in the Gift Basket Giveaway. That’s where Teresa registered for the sweepstakes.

Samantha’s wedding is October 2021.

Teresa was supposed to get her gift basket on Monday but had a job interview and couldn’t meet up. The delivery of the prizes took place a day later.

The event

Craven Street Gift Basket Giveaway was an inaugural event for New Bern Post. The website, which provides news, information, and opinion, has been a hobby of mine since I left the Sun Journal in 2017.

I started working on the Post full-time starting around March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first arrived in Craven County.

My wife Sarah suggested I switch from Google ads to local ads, but advertising is a tricky and difficult business.

New Bern Post faced numerous obstacles: Many people still haven’t heard about it. Advertising adds a new dimension to production. And mainly, I couldn’t sell a fire extinguisher to a man whose house is on fire.

Plus, there are a lot of advertising venues already–from Google and Facebook, on down to local advertising on TV, radio, and the Sun Journal.

What could we offer that is different?

The moment I asked myself the question, I had the answer.

New Bern Post advertising would serve a purpose and have a mission. We don’t sell ads, we encourage advocacy. Just like the news side of the Post, the advertising side focuses on the healthy growth of the community. We are kind, and we are here to help.

The revelation occurred while I was standing on sidewalk on Craven Street. There weren’t a lot of people on Craven Street that day, but one block over on Middle Street, there were crowds.

I always loved Craven Street. Any town would love to have its one-block-long mix of stores, galleries, restaurants, and historic buildings.

Here’s somewhere New Bern Post could help.

And the Craven Street Gift Basket Giveaway was born. It was designed to remind local people about this wonderful city block. And I think it served that purpose well.

And it made Teresa Caelen of Reelsboro happy during hard times.

Meanwhile, the merchants of Craven Street have gotten together to plan their own celebration events for the Holidays.

It’s called Christmas on Craven.

As planned so far, there will be a virtual video tour of decorated shops, an outdoor display and photo prop for pictures, live window displays, carolers from local high schools, a Street-Wide Open House, hot fresh donuts, and a musical recital.

Impressive, Craven Street. Very impressive.

The basket

Gift Basket contents were nicely collected in a basket by Small Batch.

Here’s among the items the winner received:

  • Exclusive Mitchell Hardware Cranberry pecan cheese ball mix, a New Bern bear towel, a Mitchell Hardware koozie, and a Mitchell Hardware gift card.
  • Custom frame and matting with fall foliage print from Ballantyne Framing & Art.
  • T-shirt, a house rub spice container, and $30 gift card from The Grill at Prohibition.
  • Unique, botanical printed accessories created by Andrea Owens of Red Shoe Studio Gallery, which feature leaves from trees and gardens around New Bern.
  • Matched pair of framed original paintings, “Pollock Street Pub Clams” and “Pollock Street Pub Oysters,” by Lisa Bisbee of Greater Good Gallery.
  • $50 in-store gift card from Twice As Nice Upscale Consignment Boutique.
  • $50 in-store gift card from Peacock’s Plume.
  • Old School Brand Buttermilk Pancake mix, Iron Fish Distillery Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup, and high-quality whisk from Small Batch Gallery + Goods.
  • In-store $50 gift certificate from Blush Boutique.
  • $50 in-store gift card and custom 4-piece set of glassware from Morgan’s Tavern & Grill.
  • $25 Gift Certificate, New Bern Beary Merry Christmas Dish Towel, Bearly Awake New Bern Coffee Mug, Wheelers Peanuts, and Local North Carolina Gold Rice from Nautical Wheelers.
  • $50 in gift cards from Supporting Sponsors Branch’s Furniture and Edward Jones.

More information about the sweepstakes can be found here.

1 Comment

  1. TYSM ….. your phone call was well received that day … the past few months have been hard but I have learned in life you just take the good with the bad and keep on moving on ….. this is my very first raffle win 🙂 tysm Craven Street for really making an amazing basket filled with Love from all of these Great Business in New Bern …. my daughter and I will most definitely enjoy a day of visiting each of you guys to “spend” our gift cards <3 <3 <3 again thank you for the wonderful basket.

    https://www.facebook.com/Momma-Ts-Custom-Creations-302149383655493

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