Norfolk church spreads the Christmas spirit

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FRANKLIN—Ten years ago, Pastor Calvin Durham made his first trip to Franklin. He was in town to bury his mother-in-law, and he was struck by what he saw.

“As we were riding through, I saw that there was some need for something that we could do to help this community,” he said.

On Saturday, Durham, his wife, Missionary Linda Durham, members of his church, New Hope Church of God in Christ Inc. in Norfolk, and other volunteers came to Franklin to give out truckloads of toys, household items and even food to residents at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

“The Lord has laid on my heart to help,” Durham said.

Lines stretched throughout the building, even out of the door at times, and Durham estimates hundreds of people received help.

“The people are so grateful,” he said. “They’re just excited about what we’re doing.”

Several companies donated items to be given away, Durham said.

“Every week, I go and pickup something from them, whether it’s food items, or whether it’s household items, toys, books — you name it, it’s out here,” he said. “These items are brand new, none of these items are used.”

Residents were given two minutes to fill bags or boxes with whatever they could and were allowed to cycle back until everything was gone.

Durham said the church has been coming to Franklin for two years to provide assistance.

“Every year it’s getting larger and larger,” he said.

Mona Murphy, vice chairman of the Franklin School Board volunteered at Saturday’s event. She said it was “a true blessing” for people to come in from the outside to help the city’s residents—especially with everything that is going on.

“This is what we all have to do is come together and help those that can’t help themselves,” she said.

Franklin Councilwoman Mary Hilliard, who also volunteered at the event, echoed Murphy’s sentiments.

“I thank the pastor and the church for coming down,” she said. “It’s just a blessing to the people, and I see the need of the people.”

Durham said that New Hope Church is simply doing its duty as a church.

“If the church is not helping individuals, then the church is not being the church,” he said. “So that’s my primary goal, to help individuals.”