For a long time after one of her twin granddaughters died just 12 hours after birth, Hilda Hamilton was angry. But she eventually decided to channel that anger in another direction, and as a result the seventh annual Storm’s Christmas Blessing will be held Saturday at New Life Church and Ministries.
The event provides free clothing, toys and gifts for children ages newborn to 18. Last year, 309 children had a Christmas they might not otherwise have had because of it, and this year Hamilton and her legion of church volunteers expect to help around 500 kids.
“God needed my love baby to bless so many other children,” Hamilton said Tuesday at the church located at 6101 SR 247, just south of Hillsboro.
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. Then, she could not believe what she was hearing as her son told the hospital staff that the twins’ mother had been addicted to drugs which, she said, contributed to the premature labor.
The twins were both delivered alive, but their chance of survival did not look good. They weighed less than a 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. The 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 kept growing.
“I would pray to God and ask what else, and something else would show up,” Hamilton said. “Then toys showed up last year. Something tragic has brought something good. For a long time I couldn’t forgive my daughter-in-law, but God gave me strength.” Her daughter-in-law is no longer addicted to drugs.
Saturday’s free event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. When people come in they are not asked anything except the name and age of their child. Depending on how many items Hamilton and her volunteers collect, each child will get two to three gifts, plus a hat, socks, gloves and cookies. They may also get a coat, but Hamilton said coats have been slow coming in this year.
Hamilton and other volunteers from the church hold fundraisers year around like bake sales, a silent auction, a Fun Day, and a twice-a-year purse auction to raise money for the event. She said they don’t raise a lot of money, but that every little bit helps.
Anyone who would like to drop off a donation can do so at the church until Saturday morning. Anyone who would like to make a monetary donation or help otherwise can call Hamilton at 937-205-0123.
During the past eight years Hamilton said that Skye has struggled, but has surpassed expectations and flourished.
“I asked the church to pray for her and we have watched it all turn around,” Hamilton said. “We consider Storm our angel and Skye our miracle.
“You see, it was Jesus that gave us our miracle. Jesus gave me strength to endure and it was Jesus that gave me the strength to forgive. I know my angel is with Jesus. I know Jesus is here with me. My family and I praise the Lord, his kindness, his love, his faithfulness, and for being who he says he is, The Great I Am, Jesus.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.