The beginning of a community outreach program, God’s Gifts, began in 2012 by one strong Christian lady, Stella McDowell. The purpose of the program is to provide Christmas to teenagers between the ages of 13 to 18, both girls and boys.
McDowell said that she was given the idea in 2011 when her sister was jailed and released to move to South Carolina to be closer to family. She had to find her sister a place to stay; she realized they needed furniture and household items as well as clothing along with cleaning and hygienic supplies. McDowell was able to fulfill the needs through donations. She said, “Later that year, God told me that if I could do this for my sister, imagine how many other people you could help in similar situations.”
She said God provided a name for the organization but she ignored the commands and felt the ramifications throughout the year. “I learned I cannot put God off, He has told me what He wants me to do to help others in need;” she continued, “I am not listening to God and allowing Him to guide me in this endeavor because it is His will.”
Her husband, Darrell, provided his ‘He-Shed’, a worshop off Highway 905 where he built cabinetry as a side job. Among the equipment of table saws and large tools they began storing items donated for God’s Gifts. They receive household items, beds, dressers, lamps, sheets and bedding and much more to assist the people in the Loris community with their needs. As word got out about the organization many residents began to sign up for specific items they require.
Although the McDowells and volunteers work diligently to fulfill the needs throughout the year, at Christmastime they want to give teenagers from ages 13 to 18 presents as she states, “These are the kids that are not included in many of the other organizations that provide Christmas gifts for this age child.” She continued, “Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army have cut off ages at 12 years old.”
The McDowell family church, Beulah Baptist on Highway 66, provides their fellowship hall for the distribution site each year. The parents come to shop for their teens and are allowed a few items to take home to wrap and place under the tree. All of this is through the help of volunteers made up of friends, neighbors, coworkers and group members. This year they would like to provide a Bible for each child. McDowell said, “The Dollar Store has paperback Bibles for one dollar and those would be nice to place with the gifts for the teens.
Each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas the McDowells ask for donations for the teens with suggested items of scarves, gloves, toboggans, hoodies/sweatshirts and coats. She is asking for help receiving bath sets, PJ bottoms, blankets and throws. Also big items that will put smiles on teens faces Christmas morning are board games, puzzles, baseball caps, purses, make-up, jewelry boxes and jewelry Other items they are requesting assistance in receiving are footballs, basketballs, flashlights, snacks, mugs and candy and arts and craft items.
Other requests are monetary donations and food items to provide Christmas dinner for families who have signed up for help. God’s Gifts is asking for canned goods, turkeys and/or hams and desserts to make a happy dinner for a family of four or more.
God’s Gifts accepts donations year round and at holidays they find they are in need of specified items directed toward teens. To contact McDowell she has the God’s Gifts FaceBook page and text or call 843-455-4335. They are accepting items and monetary donations until Friday, Dec. 21, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be distributing the gifts to the parents on Saturday, Dec. 22. She says, “Teens deserve Christmas too and are the most overlooked.”