Hoover family makes Christmas brighter for Shelby County children

Published 9:04 am Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gregg and Renee Kelley hosted a Christmas celebration at their home for children Dec. 7. (contributed)

Gregg and Renee Kelley hosted a Christmas celebration at their home for children Dec. 7. (contributed)

By DOROTHY KING / Guest Columnist

HOOVER – On Saturday, Dec. 7, 33 children from the Encouragement Learning Foundation in Calera were treated to a day of holiday fun. Greg and Renee Kelley of Greystone transformed their beautiful home into a fabulous wonderland experience in order to make the holidays special for some of Shelby County’s children.

There to greet the children were tall ceramic soldier boys and a huge meticulously decorated Christmas tree. The wide eyes and the sounds of “oohs” and “aahs” were the terms the young visitors used to express the awesomeness of this moment. Lelia Mitchell, founder and president of the Learning Foundation, said, “The Kelley’s selfless act of kindness and generosity is a manifestation of the true meaning of Christmas.”

Every moment of the evening was filled with fun and laughter. The children enjoyed letting their creative juices flow as they made unique gifts to put under their Christmas trees. A magnificently adorned table was packed full of mouth-watering delicacies including an edible snowman.

To make sure every child understood the meaning of Christmas, Elisabeth King of Montevallo read the Christmas story and Hope Dodson of Calera dramatized the song “Mary Did You Know” in sign language. This was a very moving moment for the children and the adults.

The photographer, Lynn McWaters, was patient and professional. She appeared to capture the children’s every move, especially the shocked looks when they received a surprise visit from Santa Claus. Coleman King, a 6-year-old from Alabaster, was one of Santa’s helpers who assisted in distributing gifts that were donated by family and friends of the Kelleys.

Some of the event hostesses assisting the Kelleys were Renee Steed, Ivey Smith, Ainslie McLean, Bridget Viner and Megan Pughsley. Renee Kelley said, “It was amazing how many friends and families wanted to help. I felt enriched being surrounded by so many loving and giving people.”

Several parents from Shelby County provided transportation and also served as chaperons for the event.

Dorothy King is the founder of Stop the Madness Outreach Ministry located in Shelby County.