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A smile or thanks for help is reward enough

An occasional feature on how your faith has affected your life.

I am a volunteer in charge of the food pantry at our church, Childs Park United Methodist. It is a very rewarding feeling when you give someone a bag of groceries, and you see tears come to their eyes, and you know you are helping them.

Some of these people are homeless; some have not had any food in their homes for two or three days. They give you a big hug and say thank you. I thank God every day that he has given me the strength and good health to keep doing this work.

A couple of years ago, I received a Christmas card from someone in South Carolina. I had no idea who she was, but when I opened it, there was this beautiful card thanking me for giving her son, who is HIV-positive, a Thanksgiving basket. Tears came to my eyes, and I again said "thank you, God."

Another time we were having a work day at church and there was a knock on the door. There stood this little boy who lived down the alley in a converted garage made into living quarters. He said it was his birthday, and his mother said if I would give him three eggs, she would bake him a birthday cake. I happened to have four eggs in the food pantry, and I gave them to him and his eyes lit up. The next Sunday, he told us that he was able to have a birthday cake, and he gave us a big smile. That smile was thanks enough for me.

I volunteer about 30 hours a week. I do it because I love the Lord, and I think this is what he wants me to do.

I am 67 years old. When I retired, I was in a bad depression. My husband had passed away the year before, and I had a heart condition.

When I took over the food pantry and got involved in church again, I became a changed person. My life has been rewarded in so many ways.

Alberta Thompson,

St. Petersburg

We're interested in your story. Mail it to Beliefs, in care of Susan Willey, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or call TimesLine at 898-0019 and punch in category code 8955.

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