Stella McDowell created God’s Gifts in 2012 and has spent the last seven years helping people who need assistance with every day items. God’s Gifts is a nonprofit community outreach program that depends upon donations of furniture, clothing, food and more to provide for people throughout Horry County.
On Saturday, Nov. 23, McDowell and volunteers set up the community Thanksgiving dinner gifts for 150 families who were unable to afford a family holiday dinner. Each family received a turkey, freshly grown collards and sweet potatoes, stuffing mix, vegetables and cranberry sauce.
McDowell stated that people can communicate their needs on God’s Gifts Facebook page. This is a community page for people in Horry County to communicate their specific needs throughout the year. Posts consist of requesting clothing, furniture, baby items, help with paying pre-pay electric bills and some needing simple car and home repairs. The page also has many posts from people who want to help others with items they no longer need. Many of the items are clothing of all sizes, diapers, appliances and more.
During the summer months a local heating and air conditioning company provided air conditioning repairs at no cost for those suffering from the heat. The company did not want to be mentioned as his service was an act of kindness, as in Proverbs 14:31 “Whosoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.” There are many more acts of kindness from local small businesses that have assisted in repairs, car mechanics, refrigeration and small appliance repairs, and others who have given their time freely to help one another with repairs in many areas.
The acts of kindness are contagious throughout Horry County and through McDowell’s God’s Gifts program. A movie released in October 2000, an 11 year old boy was given a class assignment to come up with a way to change the world for the better and put it into action. The boy’s plan was to pay it forward. He gave his allowance to a home less man to buy clothing and shoes so that he could get a job; he continued with the acts of kindness in hope that those he helps will help others in need. This is what God’s Gifts is about, giving without expecting anything in return.
After Thanksgiving Day, McDowell and volunteers begin working toward providing Christmas for teen boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 18. Toys for Tots and The Salvation Army have a cut-off age at 12 years old. McDowell wants teens from less fortunate families to receive gifts under the tree each year. The requested items are toboggans, gloves, scarves, coats, socks, slippers, pajamas, sweat shirts, T-shirts and items that help to keep warm. Donations are requested for board games, a deck of cards, flashlights, pens and pencils, color pencils, drawing paper, composition books and school supplies. Other items that will help the girl teens to feel the kindness are make-up, nail polish, hair ribbons, berets and candy and snacks. For the boys basketballs, footballs, razors, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, deodorant and cologne, nail clippers and candy. McDowell asks that donations can be made between now and Christmas.
Her husband, Darrell, provided his ‘He-Shed’, a workshop 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.
The McDowells’ 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.
Other requests are monetary donations and food items to provide Christmas dinner for families who will sign 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. 20, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be distributing the gifts to the parents on Saturday, Dec. 21. She says, “Teens deserve Christmas too and are the most overlooked.”