Owens House receives blessings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2004

In a world where kindness often seems to be in short supply, Owens House director Helen Rardin has been not only surprised but also delighted this holiday season.

&uot;All year long, there are those who contribute to (the Owens House, Shelby County’s Child Advocacy Center),&uot; Rardin said. &uot;But this season, it just seems to be more so.&uot;

For instance, she said, there was the Mainline Heating employee who pulled into the Owens House parking lot one day.

Rardin said he had been there before to work on the heating unit.

&uot;He told the most amazing story,&uot; she said.

It seems the man was at the landfill the weekend before and a very old many walked up to him and inquired whether he was going to have a nice Christmas. The Mainline employee said he was. In fact, he told the older man that as soon as he finished unloading, he was going Christmas shopping.

The older man walked up to him, thrust some balled-up cash into his hand and bid him &uot;Merry Christmas.&uot; He then hurried to his truck and left the landfill.

When the Mainline employee unrolled the cash, he saw that the man had given him $280.

&uot;He brought half of that money to us, $140, and said he was going to take the rest to the Jimmie Hale Mission downtown,&uot; Rardin said. &uot;He had no idea who the man was.

&uot;These types of things have been happening to the Owen’s House this year,&uot; she said. &uot;So many good people have come out. There are so many individuals and groups.&uot;

The giving began at Thanksgiving, she said.

United Neighbors is a church project which provided 50 bags of groceries for the Owen’s House’s needy families during Thanksgiving.

Another church collected socks and underwear for the many children who receive aid from Owen’s House.

The Heart of Dixie Harley Club in Pelham collected items on the advocacy center’s wish list, items such as paper towels and toilet paper.

&uot;There was the lady who gave 22 little plastic cups filled with treats for the children. She never had any children of her own and just wanted to do something,&uot; Rardin said.

Tommy Harris is one of the Owen’s House special volunteers, she said. Harris collected old, unusable computers and reformatted them and collected the necessary items to make the usable.

&uot;Now we have five new computers – each with a monitor, a mouse, everything they need to work,&uot; she said.

Another special volunteer, Mary Burns, has made an effort this year, &uot;as she always does,&uot; Rardin said.

&uot;Her son, Gary, was killed in an accident and every year, she furnishes stuffed animals for the children in his memory.&uot;

Then, there was the steady stream of monetary donations that have come in this year from all sorts of Shelby County residents including law enforcement agents, local high school students, members of local clubs like the Novella Club and the Vignette Club.

It’s the donations from the children that make your heart swell, Rardin said.

&uot;We have two Girl Scout troops who are helping this year. One of them adopted a family and are providing presents for them. Another troop volunteered to come out and do some work on the property,&uot; she said.

&uot;It teaches kids that Christmas is all about giving rather than getting because, after all, God gave his son.

&uot;These kids are learning to be good citizens by taking care of others.&uot;

The funds which are donated to The Owen’s House are used to make up anything that is needed in providing Christmas for the families.

&uot;More than 400 children in Shelby County got something this year that they didn’t deserve – and that was abuse,&uot; Rardin said. &uot;So, it’s our responsibility to provide them with a good Christmas. All of these special gifts will allow us to do so.&uot;

The Owen’s House has been in operation for 11 years. It was created by District Attorney Robby Owens during the first year of his first term as the Shelby County Advocacy Center and was renamed in 1997 when it moved into the facility on Highway 25 in Columbiana.

Owens House provides a central location for children who have been abused to receive counseling, therapy and protection during the prosecution process.

The 501C-3 organization receives some at-risk funds from Shelby County Schools to send interns into the schools for certain programs. The organization also receives grants from the Children’s Trust Fund and ADECA for parenting classes and victims’ services, respectively.