LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – With only days until Christmas, many parents are still rushing to put those last minute gifts under the tree, but it’s a little harder for those still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Matthew.
“There’s still shock, but the shock is wearing off into almost somewhat of a despair,” said Alan Taylor, Director of Missions for the Robeson Baptist Association. He knows it’s been a tough year in Robeson County.
“The problem here is that you’re dealing with generational poverty,” Taylor explained. “You’re dealing with people who’ve not had anything, and then what they did have was all torn out of the house and set on the front steps.”
That’s why Taylor and others with the Robeson Baptist Association started the Christmas Toy Store at the Sapp Center in downtown Lumberton. Families cannot sign up, but rather a pastor or social worker must refer them to the store, where they can find most anything a little girl or boy would want under the tree.
“We’re gonna have about 200 families that we’re working with,” Taylor said. “We’re excited about it and hopefully it’ll lead to a great Christmas for them.”
Parents who get an appointment to the store can come and–with the help of volunteers–spend about $40 for each child in their family. Taylor said letting parents pick the gifts helps restore their dignity in the wake of a difficult few months.
“For a parent to be able to provide Christmas for a child, which to many of us seems like no big deal at all, for them to do that and to be a hero for their child, there’s worse things in the world than looking like a hero to your child,” Taylor smiled.
In addition to toys for the kids, families can also talk and pray with volunteers on hand, to share stories or get encouragement. Taylor said giving hope to those who have lost everything is the least he can do.
“Letting them know, Jesus loves them, we love them,” Taylor said. “We want them to enjoy where they are and to hold on to something that’s much much more powerful than anything we can give them.”