Tonight, I am writing the Helping Hands newsletter article on June 10, way too early for the June 25 deadline. No gentle prodding from Laurie this month. I am filled with despair because this morning, I learned that one of our church members had passed away. Not one of our oldest and dearest like Kenton and Jane Holland, or a faithful Helping Hands volunteer like Garland Wyatt, or one who would leave us a large monetary donation like O.A. and Maud Gant. No, this morning we lost Lexus Benton who would have celebrated her 20th birthday on July 15.
Many of our newer members will not remember Lexus; she has been in college the last three years. Some may wonder why I write of her in the Helping Hands article. Here is why. Lexus came to us through Helping Hands. Her mother, who was trying to raise Lexus and her younger sister, worked very hard ,but it was still difficult to make ends meet. As a single mother, she reached out to Helping Hands. We helped her with food and before long the children started attending some of our children’s events. As things often hap-pen with the downtrodden, the mother was in a car accident and left disabled to the extent that she could not walk with-out aid. At that point, things became even worse. However, the children con-tinued to come to church on Wednesday nights and our church members picked them up and took them home.
Eventually, the children joined our youth program. Lexus was the first person in her family to graduate from high school. Deborah Blankenship played a major role in helping her get financial aid so that she could go to college and helped tutor her through that final year in high school. When Lexus graduated, she was on her own. She did have a job working in the church nursery but that did not pay enough to live on. The place she called home did not have running water or electricity so she came to live for the summer with Gene and me.
She enjoyed playing with our grandchildren. She was just like any other 17 year old, and we are just like any other sixty plus year olds. There were some stressful moments. Lexus was not a decision maker. Gene likes to recall the time that he and Lexus caused a traffic jam in Murray while she decided if she wanted a Coke or Mountain Dew at the drive-in window at Burger King. Since I cannot stand to have anything out of place and I hate clutter, I did not go upstairs for the entire summer. Larry and Nancy Ackley also helped by letting her stay with them during our vacation time.
During that summer, Lexus went to Chrysalis, a retreat for young Christians. She was baptized, became a Christian and joined our church. When Deborah and I took her to MSU to move in the dorm, she was overwhelmed with excitement. We were overwhelmed with apprehension for her. She had so many new things for her dorm room, compliments of Benton First United Methodist Church who had “showered” her with gifts. She had a new computer, comforter set and everything every incoming freshman would need.
She couldn’t wait to meet her roommate. When the roommate finally arrived, the first things she told her was that Deborah and I were her good friends from church. She then asked her where she went to church. This was the first thing she said. The roommate promptly replied, she didn’t go to church, she was an atheist. Lexus was crest fallen. We jumped in and told her that this would be an opportunity for Lexus to “spread the word,” hoping that this would raise her spirits.
Deborah kept up with Lexus better than I did. I am a note writer and we did text. I am sad to think that she did not get the opportunity to finish college. But I am oh so happy to know that the moment that Lexus took her last breath, she was with God.
Now, you might wonder what does this have to do with the Helping Hands Food Pantry. I truly believe that if it had not been for the Helping Hands Food Pantry, Lexus Benton would not have had the opportunities she had and perhaps would not be with our Lord and Savior today. Helping Hands is playing an important role in many lives. We are not just feeding mouths but also feeding souls. Thank you for your support.