|Michigan child's compassion sparks toy drive for coast|
Jan. 4, 2006
| Courtesy of the Rev. Bruce Taylor
The Rev. Bruce and Susan Taylor of Pascagoula, Miss., meet Madelyn Galbraith in Michigan, where the child inspired a toy drive.
"...And a little child will lead them." - Isaiah 11:6b
A UMNS Feature
By Woody Woodrick*
Madelyn Galbraith might not understand what she has done, nor might
children on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But rest assured, their parents
and friends know.
Little Madelyn's concern for children affected by Hurricane Katrina led
to a toy drive that made Christmas a lot brighter for children in
Madelyn, 3, lives in Genesee, Mich. When she saw on television the
destruction left by the Aug. 29 hurricane, she got her piggy bank and
said, "The children are going to need toys."
Madelyn's parents allowed her to donate her savings to the Salvation
Army, but her grandfather, Gary Galbraith, decided to go a step further.
A member of Genesee United Methodist Church in the Flint District of
the denomination's Detroit Conference, Galbraith said his daughter
planned to do a vocal concert at a district event to raise money for
hurricane relief. They decided to also ask churches to bring toys for
the children of the Seashore District of the Mississippi Conference.
"There are about 72 churches in the district," Galbraith said. "They
brought a lot of toys and stuff. There were a lot of Christmas programs
going on, but most of the churches sent representatives."
The weekend of Dec. 9-11, the Rev. Bruce Taylor of Pascagoula (Miss.)
First United Methodist Church and his wife, Susan, flew to Michigan for
the event as representatives of the conference, district and churches of
the Gulf Coast. On Dec. 11, Taylor spoke at Thetford Center United
Methodist Church and Genesee Church, where the Rev. Bruce Nowacek is
pastor. Taylor had plenty to say.
"I told them about the experience Susan and I have had - coming back and
finding the house destroyed and virtually everything we owned gone,"
Taylor said. "I told them how we had experienced total loss and then in
the middle of the catastrophe had witnessed a miracle as assistance,
supplies and volunteers poured into Pascagoula and all across the Gulf
"I thanked them for their compassion and their generosity, and said how
because of them we were on the way back to recover and rebuild."
The two churches, with a combined membership of about 200, took a
special offering and raised nearly $10,000 for the United Methodist
Committee on Relief.
On the trip, the Taylors met Madelyn and others involved in the toy drive.
Once the toys were collected, they had to be transported. Gary Galbraith
said a pickup truck was offered, and then a trailer was donated.
Galbraith, Robin Phillips of Genesee Church and Keith Cregar of Thetford
Center Church left Michigan the afternoon of Dec. 14 and arrived in
Pascagoula nearly 12 hours later. During that weekend, the toys were
distributed, and the Michigan visitors were given a tour of the
|Courtesy of the Rev. Bruce Taylor
toys for Mississippi children are (from left) Gerri Pierce, Sherry
Judy, Keith Cregar, Gary Galbraith and Robbin Phillips of Michigan.
"We drove along the beach and noticed the houses were empty because of
the water (damage)," Galbraith said. "The houses that were standing were
Distributing toys to families lifted their spirits, Galbraith said. "It
was good for us to do that. I felt a little like St. Nick going around
putting bags by doors and sneaking away. It was not a time to be
Galbraith and Taylor said the toy drive exemplifies the strength of the United Methodist connectional system.
"The Methodist connection made this possible," Galbraith said. "The two guys I took down with me realized the connection."
Taylor said he talked about the connection during his trip to Michigan.
He also had a special gift for Madelyn - a photograph of a sunflower
emerging from the debris of a home.
"I told them they are the sunflower in the midst of the destruction of
our lives," Taylor said. "They are our hope as the flower represents
hope. I told them that where there is life there is God and that where
there is God there is hope.
*Woodrick is editor of the Mississippi Advocate, the newspaper of the United Methodist Church's Mississippi Annual Conference.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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