BATON ROUGE, La. (Brian Blackwell, BP) -- When 8-year-old Taylor Henry saw the devastation from flooding in south Louisiana, she wanted to do something.
What she did not foresee is how her desire would turn into an effort that raised more than $7,000 for those affected by record flooding in August.
8-year-old Taylor Henry holds one of the travel-size tissue holders she began sewing to raise money after seeing the devastation from flooding in south Louisiana. Orders poured in, prompting family and friends to help with the initiative and raising more than $7,000 in relief funds, which she presented to Woodlawn Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Photo courtesy of the Baptist Message
Henry, her parents and grandparents journeyed to Baton Rouge where she presented a check during Woodlawn Baptist Church's Oct. 9 worship service.
The youngster was all smiles as she handed over the donation, which will be used to purchase sheetrock to help rebuild houses and churches in the Baton Rouge area.
"This was a really good experience for me and one of the most exciting things I've ever done," said Henry, whose family are members of Airline Baptist Church in Bossier City in the northern part of the state.
"I felt horrible for how bad the flooding was but felt glad I got to help the flood victims physically in their homes and by raising money for them," she said.
"The donation I brought may not be the biggest donation but it was able to save a couple of houses by buying materials. I really think God gave me this idea and He is the reason for it all."
Henry began sewing fabric to make travel-size tissue holders several days after the flooding began, aiming to raise $1,000 -- but she far exceeded her goal, raising seven times that amount.
Hunter Schneider (left) and Hunter Hayden, who both attend First Baptist Church in Haughton, La., opened a lemonade stand to raise funds for flood-stricken Stevendale Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Photo courtesy of the Baptist Message
News of her initiative spread quickly and orders arrived from the local Bossier City-Shreveport area as well California, West Virginia, Tennessee and even Canada.
So many orders came in that family and friends volunteered to help her about two hours every day to assemble fabric squares into pouches for the tissue holders -- about 1,000 in all.
Henry's mom Julia said her daughter's kindness toward others makes her a proud parent.
"I can't explain the admiration I have for my little 8-year-old and her big heart," she said. "This project has been such an amazing experience. We were able to speak with people from all across the country who sent their prayers and donations to the flood victims in south Louisiana. It was heartwarming to see so many kindhearted individuals come together for a common cause."
Woodlawn Baptist pastor Lewis Richerson commended Henry as a shining example of how obedience to God multiplies to help others.
"You see what God did through a little third-grade child?" Richerson asked during the worship service about how Henry used her gifts and talents to advance the Kingdom of God.
Wyatt English (left) and Brody Beach, football teammates who both attend First Baptist Church in Haughton, La., requested money in place of birthday presents so they could donate to Louisiana flood relief. Photo courtesy of the Baptist Message
"Taylor, we want to say as a congregation thank you so very much for letting God work through you," the pastor continued. "And my prayer for you is that this will serve as an example in your life that you will never forget and you will continue to be a very generous young lady as you seek to serve the Lord in whatever He has you to do in life."
Lemonade & birthday money
Henry was not the only Louisiana youngster to raise money for disaster relief.
Instead of playing X-Box or being bored, third-graders Hunter Schneider and Hunter Hayden capitalized on the sweltering heat by opening a lemonade stand for two weekends in September, raising $250. Schneider and Hayden both attend First Baptist Church in Haughton.
Two other young men from the church, second-graders Wyatt English and Brody Beach, each gave money they received as birthday presents. Instead of buying things for themselves, they gave cash gifts they received, $500 combined.
The money from all four boys was donated to a church which is rebuilding after receiving more than 2 feet of water in its sanctuary and 3 to 4 feet in other buildings.
"We made a commitment as a church to partner with Stevendale Baptist Church in Baton Rouge to help them rebuild after the flood," said Gevan Spinney, pastor of First Baptist in Haughton and president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. "We have seen God's people selflessly give their time and money to this need.
"The physical labor has to be done by adults and older youth. These young boys were not content with doing nothing, so they decided to do what they could do," Spinney said. "This is just another story of how Louisiana Baptists of all ages have come together to do what they could to help with this disaster."