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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2006
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Robbery at church motivates spirit of giving

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com 340-2468

The "Grinch" who stole gifts from Garner Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church won't get the final say after all.

Members and other people are replacing presents stolen from the church "store."

The Rev. Milton Proctor Sr., pastor, said that one man on his basketball team handed him five $100 bills to help buy new gifts.

"I was really surprised," Proctor said.

The Sunday school department from St. Luke United Methodist Church took up $75 Sunday, the day The Daily
reported the robbery, Proctor said.

He said members of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization, came by right after Garner's worship service.

The Neighborhood Christian Center called to promise surplus items from its Christmas program, Proctor said.

Anonymous donors also have brought a keyboard, a drum, dolls, books, games and other toys.

"We are overwhelmed by the love everyone has shown us," Proctor said.

Members of Garner are pitching in, as Proctor knew they would.

He said he tried to discourage one man from giving because he has a family to provide for, but the member insisted on "doing his part."

He hopes enough gifts will come in for about 25 youth "shoppers" by Friday.

Instead of cash, the children and teens will use tickets in the church store.

They earned them at Garner by attending Sunday school and worship, bringing their Bibles, making good grades and doing other positive acts, the pastor said.

Their opportunity to shop will come after the young people go caroling Friday evening to sick and shut-in members and others in the community.

Proctor said some youths have told him they will be
picking out Christmas gifts for family members and themselves.

Church officials discovered the burglary Dec. 10. Someone broke a basement door to get in, taking every gift in the store and also stealing a $600 video camera the church uses to record services.

Garner Memorial is at 401 Cherry St. N.W. Proctor may
be reached at 341-0118 or 566-5604.

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