Year after year, Christmas after Christmas miracle workers across the United States and around the world give of themselves to help others. Often, these are the unsung heroes. Hopefully, someday our country will not have hungry children. Maybe, someday...all of America's children will know the joy of being a child. Surely, someday...we will be able to celebrate the fact that all of our children are cherished.
This is but one story among the thousands upon thousands out there - but Big Mama epitomizes what a true "miracle worker" is.
TO THE ORIGINAL STORY
SHARING THE JOY
`Big Mama' creates Christmas miracles
By Elizabeth Baier
December 25, 2005
Wearing a fuzzy, red Santa dress and hat, Essie "Big Mama" Reed stood inside a wooden entry booth Saturday evening and read out loud the names of hundreds gathering at her third annual Miracle Tree Christmas celebration.
"Where's Big Mama?" she said over the microphone to her neighbors. "Bless the Lord, here's Big Mama and she's got something for you."
One by one, almost 300 children and their parents passed by the booth and entered the lot outside Reed's home near Northwest Third Street and 12th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. The land usually remains empty, but Saturday it was decorated with a dozen red, green and white tents and tables brimming with Christmas gifts.
Some families had heard about the celebration through word of mouth and registered their children in Reed's Miracle Tree wish list, while others joined the celebration after seeing the crowd gathering outside. All around, the smell of popcorn and chicken fritters filled the air as children clutched onto their new toy trucks, dolls and clothes.
"I'm God's worker, but Santa's helper," Reed said. "For some of these families, this is all the Christmas celebration they are going to get."
Saturday's Christmas celebration was among the many altruistic activities Reed has led in the past two decades. Despite being poor herself, she has become the unofficial grandmother of the neighborhood by helping children who have lost their way or have needed adult attention. Cindy John was at the celebration with her 13-year-old son Christopher. John, 32, said she will count her blessings today for her health, for having a joband for having met Reed this year.
The single mother of five said if it wasn't for Reed's help, she would not have been able to give her children any gifts this Christmas.
"I can hardly explain how I feel to be able to give my kids something for Christmas," said John, who works as a cashier at Winn-Dixie. "Our Christmas tree only has Big Mama's gifts underneath it. She's wonderful."
Reed gained national attention recently when Phil McGraw interviewed her on his Dr. Phil show on Dec. 13 for feeding her neighbors for almosttwo weeks after Hurricane Wilma.
"This is one powerful year," Reed said. "[Hurricane] Wilma played a big role. It's been my calling to help my neighbors."
The national attention attracted sponsors for Saturday's Christmas event, including the Miami Dolphins, Rick Case Honda, the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Lauderdale and Reed's own church, the Royal Assembly Church of the Living.
Also helping Reed were 25 volunteers of the Team of Life, the nonprofit organization she started 1 1/2 years ago to help expand her charity work in the community.
"She gives to everyone and keeps nothing for herself," said Elizabeth King, one of the volunteers. "She's unbelievable."