FAISON — Choosing Joy. It’s something that can be very difficult to do at times. Especially in tough times, and in times where life basically does everything it can to take the joy out of us. But choosing joy can have such an amazing impact with the community around us.
That’s what Pinda Byrd, her family, and church family have seen over the past five years. On Saturday, they were at it again, helping out 40 families throughout Sampson County.
In 2010, Byrd’s niece, Lydia Byrd was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and lost her life. After some time and consideration in what could be done to remember her by, Byrd and family decided on a coat drive called Lydia’s Coats.
The event began as a coat drive and toy store, in partnership with the Eastern Baptist Association in Warsaw. In 2012, with the help of Beulah Baptist Church, the event helped provide coats and toys to underprivileged children from Hargrove Elementary School.
Since, the event has grown greatly. It now features the help of many surrounding churches, including Mount Vernon, Beulah, and the host church, Piney Grove Baptist in Faison. This is the second year that the event has been held at Piney Grove, and the results have been wonderful.
“This year, we are blessed enough to serve 4o families,” said Pinda Byrd. “That means 118 kids. These families get a Bible, a church service while they’re here, a lunch, toys, groceries, and a new coat. They also get to see Santa Claus, and to meet Miss North Carolina, Kate Peacock.”
Peacock was on site for the church service on Saturday, and was humbled by the experience.
“I truly got in the Christmas spirit at the toy store ministry and coat distribution,” she said. “To see the children’s faces light up when they saw what the people were doing for them and their families was truly humbling.”
Piney Grove Pastor Richard Weeks has seen the event be a blessing to the families involved as well as to the people who help.
“In this event, it is truly amazing the blessing the people who are given what they need get, but it is even more amazing the feeling the folks get from helping others out,” said Weeks.
“We have seen it come full circle, too. A family that came to this event last year, some of them come to our church now, and one of them was recently saved. It’s just awesome to see that come out of it, because as a church we are all about missions and missions turning into salvation; that’s truly something that we are so thankful for.”
In the first couple of years of the event, the focus was solely on Hargrove Elementary. Now, with help of the community, and growing donations, the event is able to reach out and help families from Hargrove, Hobbton, and the Midway communities.
“Everything we do comes from donations,” Byrd pointed out. “It is amazing what a community can do. We are humbled by the support of everyone around, the churches, the people, just everything. It is a great way to remember Lydia, and turn something that is so sad into something positive.”
That’s choosing joy. Going above and beyond, even in hard times, to make someone else better. Nothing says Merry Christmas like choosing joy, organizers said.