Bible class carries on passion

Milton “Skillet” Bird was a friendly man of great character, a practical joker, a gifted writer, a philosopher of plain speaking, a devoted Christian whose passion was children in need.

Each year approximately 150 children in Columbiana, Shelby and Wilsonville receive a special Christmas from Santa though the generosity of our communities and the elves of Columbiana United Methodist Church (CUMC) through the ongoing Skillet Bird Christmas Fund.

Born in 1907, Bird lived 94 years giving back to his family and his community.

Every Thursday he would visit the elderly and sick. In 1931, he began a weekly column in the Shelby County Reporter called “Good Morning” filled with homespun tales of life. “I write of folks and things,” Bird once said.

Bird’s greatest passion was children, especially those in need. He drove around Columbiana in his little purple truck, carrying his red bucket, and asking for donations to give toys to children at Christmas, and the Christmas Fund began.

Bird was a long time member of the Luther Fowler Bible Class at CUMC, a group of men who meet every Sunday morning for fellowship and Bible study.

These men were Bird’s friends and helpers each year to raise money to give children, not sponsored by anyone, a Christmas.

In 1998 as Bird was getting older, he wanted to be sure that the Christmas Fund would go on. So he passed the mantle on to the Luther Fowler Bible Class.

These men have continued with Bird’s passion and have kept the Skillet Bird Christmas Fund, renamed in Bird’s honor, going all these years through the generosity of the CUMC, the Columbiana community, schools, and the leadership of first Katie Robertson and now Holli Argo who have facilitated the elves who shop for the families.

The money raised now will help the children next Christmas, a brilliant policy that Bird started to raise the funds a year in advance so that the elves would know how many children can have Christmas.

This year Regions Bank in Columbiana under the leadership of Anthony Persons, Branch Manager, made the funds stretch by providing Visa cards for free which allowed the shoppers to get the most value for each dollar and not be limited to one store.

Each child is given a wish list of three articles of clothes and three toys and the shoppers want to be sure that all wishes are fulfilled.

The Fund recently lost one of its greatest supporters, John Jones. He felt so strongly in this cause that his family requested memorials be made to the Skillet Bird Fund, care of Columbiana United Methodist Church, 200 North Main Street, Columbiana, AL 35051.

Many children in need have just had a wonderful Christmas. Consider a donation so that next Christmas, more children can have one, too.

Columnist Phoebe Robinson can be reached by e–mail at phoeberobinson@bellsouth.net.