It was the twinkle in a couple kids’ eyes, Hilda Hamilton said, that convinced her she was doing the right thing by continuing Storm’s Christmas Blessing, an event held in memory of a late granddaughter that provides Christmas gifts to families that need them.
The ninth annual Storm’s Christmas Blessing will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at New Life Church and Ministries on SR 247, just south of Hillsboro.
“She’ll never have a voice and this was God’s way of showing me that she would,” said Hamilton, who puts the event together in memory of a twin granddaughter that passed way in her arms 12 hours after she was born. “Last year, I had a couple kids come in and smile at me, and I could hear, as plain as day, Storm saying, ‘Grandma, can you hear me now?’ It’s just a blessing to be able to do this.”
In its first year, Storm’s Christmas Blessing provided 42 children with gloves and hats. But it has grown each year, and a year ago toys and clothes were provided for more than 500 children.
This year, parents will be able to pick out a couple toys for each of their children, plus choose from hats, gloves, coats, socks, T-shirts and some sweatshirts.
In addition this year, there will be an area where kids can pick out a gift for their parents, and be treated to cookies, hot chocolate and possibly a story, while they color and their parents shop. Children will also receive a couple cookies and a candy cane to take home. A weekly community lunch will be served at the church during the hours of the Christmas event.
It all started in August of 2009. Hamilton was already stunned to learn that her son’s wife was going into labor after just 25 weeks of pregnancy. The twins were both delivered alive, but their chance of survival did not look good. They weighed less than one pound each. Their eyes were still fused shut and their skin was transparent. They had tubes and wires running everywhere.
Hamilton, a Hillsboro resident for 25 years and member of New Life Church and Ministries since 2008, started praying.
The babies, named Storm and Skye, were rushed to Dayton Children’s Hospital.
“They were in a fight for their lives,” Hamilton said. “Both had two doctors, two nurses and four other staff members assigned to them. Storm was worse off. She tried so hard to breathe. Storm’s little heart would stop and they would start it again and again. All we could do was stand there and watch. Most of all we prayed.
“The things I was thinking – the love, the hurt, the pain, the unknown, feeling useless, and anger,” Hamilton remembered. “I was angry and mad.”
Storm died in her grandmother’s arms when she was just 12 hours old.
A few days after Storm was buried, Hamilton and her family found out that Storm had actually saved Skye’s life. Drugs, doctors said, had gone through Storm’s body first and she acted like a filter for Skye.
“That one had to die so the other could live is extremely sad, and it was one of the worst times of my life,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was angry. In fact, she said that if it wasn’t for the church and pastor Linda Bowman and her husband Bill Bowman, she doesn’t think she would have made it. But she eventually overcame her anger and decided to turn it into something positive. In 2010, the inaugural Storm’s Christmas Blessing was launched.
At first it was just a gloves and hats ministry. But it has grown into much more.
“It’s for anybody with a child that needs Christmas,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said there is no paperwork to fill out for those wanting gifts, although she does reserve the right to ask for proof of the number of children in a household.
“We had one couple come in and say they had 12 kids, but they didn’t know their names,” Hamilton said. “We just ask that everyone be considerate of others and move through the lines in a timely manner.”
Those requesting gifts will be lined up and brought into the church building five at a time on a first-come, first-served basis. The event will continue until 1 p.m. or the gifts run out.
Hamilton said earlier this week that she was worried about the amount of toys that had been collected, thinking it might not be enough.
Anyone wanting to donate items can drop them off at the church located at 6101 SR 247 any day next week after 9 a.m., right up to the day of the event. Or, they can call Hamilton at 937-205-0123 or Linda Bowman at 937-402-1429 and Hamilton will arrange to have someone pick up the items.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.