260 residents from Toombs and surrounding counties piled into the First Baptist Church of Vidalia (VFBC) for The Mercy Ministries' Annual Love-In-Action Fundraising Luncheon Thursday, November 29th. Each individual was invited by Mercy Volunteer Table Captains who agreed to invite seven people to join them at their table, but we were not unhappy when about a dozen unexpected guests showed up, as well! It is the season of giving, and no one does it better than Mercy supporters!
Judge Sherri McDonald, the 2018 Mercy Board Secretary, welcomed everyone, being sure to recognize all those who made the event possible. She thanked VFBC for the facility and production, TMM Board Members, TMM Table Captains ... and Altamaha EMC, Lasseter Equipment Co. and Million Pines Community Bank for the catered meal of delicious pulled pork BBQ, green beans, potato salad, bread, pecan pie and sweet iced tea.
A video played of Mercy patients who had been asked, "What's the greatest gift you've ever received?" -- view here -- McDonald then introduced Mercy patient, Vanessa Hill, who blessed the food. The who's who of Toombs County had story cards at each of their seats, allowing them to "meet" a Mercy patient who had a big success story in 2018. Then, ten of Mercy's patients passed out to each of the luncheon guests a hand-made ornaments tied to a hand-written thank-you note written by TMM patients.
The guests were digging into their pecan pie when Carly Benton, Executive Director of TMM, stepped to the mic. She encouraged everyone with a word she had read in her Biblical devotional that morning, and shared the vision and needs TMM has going into 2019.
Next an emotional testimonial video -- view here -- by two Mercy patients and one Mercy University student played, bringing tears to the eyes of everyone in attendance! From a single mom who was scared about the future, to a woman who would be dead right now if Mercy hadn't helped her get her heart surgery, the stories touched hearts.
Perhaps the most impactful moment of the hour came when Alex Halligan, a Mercy patient, took the stage with Clint Hutcheson, Director of Mercy University. Hutcheson asked Halligan what Mercy had been able to do for him. Halligan was sure to thank everyone who made it possible for him to get the treatments and medications he needed to combat his C.O.P.D. and Asthma, which had brought him to what he felt like was the point of death on many occassions. With tears in his eyes he said, were it not for TMM, "I don't think I'd be here today."
As Halligan wiped tears from his eyes, Mike Hagan, Vice Chairman of the Mercy Board, stepped to the podium to offer luncheon guests an opportunity to "Give the Gift of Health" this Christmas by either sponsoring a patient for just $84/month (noting that if they agreed to do that for 5 years, they could join Mercy's Transformation Giving Society), or they could simply make a one-time donation.
The Table Captains took up the donations as McDonald returned to the mic to thank everyone for coming. The Christmas music had been turned on and off and back on during the event ... but we noticed one thing stayed on the entire hour of the luncheon ... and that was the smiles of the Mercy patients, the generous donors of the event, and Mercy staff members (who couldn't do what they do without the support of the community).
From the bottom of our Mercy hearts, THANK YOU FOR GIVING THE GIFT OF HEALTH!
Click here to learn more about how to sponsor a patient in 2019