Christmas gifts were a welcome surprise

Dec 10, 2013

When you live in a community where good deeds are as commonplace as coffee klatches at the corner restaurant, it isn’t surprising when stories crop up about them.

What is surprising and welcome news is when good deeds from outside the community shine on us. After all, we’re the ones accustomed to giving, not necessarily receiving.

But in the case of the Network of Promise and Food For Tots, Haywood County residents are both stunned and thankful at the action that provided a Christmas treat for 1,000 families.

The organizations were founded by Johnny Strickland of Florida and Ron Miller of Mississippi, former business executives and clergymen with big hearts. The duo has networked with the corporate contacts they made through the years to receive merchandise from companies and broken down giving to a science.

Last Friday, volunteers helped the two big givers unload and organize truckloads of food, clothing, toys and other essentials that were given to families in the community who had received an “invitation” to the party. Those invited were identified by social services, Haywood County Schools and nonprofit agencies in the county as individuals and families who might have lean times this Christmas without a bit of a boost.

Upon arrival, each family had their own helper who could assist in finding proper size clothing and other needs to fill out a wish list.

The generosity shown by these gentlemen is almost breathtaking. Many families in our midst are still recovering from the economic recession that struck the nation. This extra help is bound to have made a great difference.

Ironically, the way the organization even learned about Haywood County was when Strickland visited Maggie Valley and began visiting with Terri Crowder at a motorcycle event.

The conversation led to his ministry, and the next, bold question: Who is eligible for this great gift?

The answer was as simple as “being in the right place at the right time,” said Crowder.

We want to say thank you to Strickland, Miller, the town of Maggie Valley and all the local volunteers that made this distribution possible. We hope everything went smoothly enough for these men to return to Haywood County next year.

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