Charles Howell has been delivering Christmas cards to local nursing home residents for seven years and said doing God’s work has not only provided for his family, but blessed them.

The 82-year-old Cullman resident remembered being loaned a brand new car after he found himself in a tough situation while delivering Christmas cards to a Hanceville nursing home several years ago.

“A woman offered to call a locksmith for me, but said it would be about $50 to unlock the car, and I didn’t have $50 so I thought maybe I can get someone to give me a ride to go and get another set of keys,” Charles Howell said. “A woman inside gave me her keys to her brand new car. She didn’t even know me. I tell you, I wouldn’t give keys to a brand to car to my own child, much less a stranger. Well, I went and got my other set of keys and picked her up a box of candy and came back and when I thanked her and gave her the candy, she began to cry. She told me I didn’t have to do that and I told her she didn’t have to let me drive her car and I started crying, too.”

Cullman County kids are also helping spread Christmas cheer this holiday season through Howell’s nursing home Christmas card ministry. After purchasing the cards, he sends them to Cullman County students to write personal messages on and then delivers them to local nursing homes for around 500 residents. Howell said this ministry is just a small way for him to give back to the community.

“There’s a lot of people in the nursing homes who don’t have people visiting them and I just want to commend the kids who take the time to do something beautiful for the nursing home residents,” Howell said. “There’s so many times where kids do things and don’t get recognized and I just wanted to thank them for their participation and the great work they do helping with this.”

Multiple Cullman County schools get a visit from Mr. Howell who drops Christmas cards for different classes to write on, and he returns later on to pick them up. He said each year, two weeks before Christmas, he delivers the Christmas cards to the nursing home residents. Howell said the ministry started because he saw how much a Christmas card brightened someone’s day.

 “I just felt sorry for those people in the nursing home because so many of those people’s family members lived some place else and I like to do things for others when we can, and I plan to continue to do things for others until we kill over, I guess,” Howell said. “I tell you though, you get blessed when you do the Lord’s work.”

Howell would not take any credit for the success of the ministry, he simply said the kids do most of the work and the local card sponsors, Traditions Bank, Merchants Bank, Eckenrod Ford and Bill Smith Toyota allow the tradition to stay alive.

“I would be able to afford the cards without the help of the sponsors,” Howell said. “And I couldn’t do it without the kids, I’ll tell you that.”

 Howell said he and his wife of 32 years have been volunteering at Cullman Regional Medical Center together for five years and have experienced an eventful, fulfilling life.

 “We have five kids who live all over and nine grand-kids,” Howell said. “We’ve lived in this area since 1962 and I I tell you the Lord has blessed us with a full life and it is so worth it.”

Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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