A young gift-giver in Canton, Ga., is providing a family with an early Christmas present this year – hope.
Bradley Thomas recently began a Taekwondo class in August at Canton’s ATA Martial Arts. Taking on a community service project there in October, the 7-year-old vowed to help family friends fallen on hard times by performing chores in his community for Christmas gift funds. Now in its second month, Bradley has raised three times his original goal and is still toiling for those less fortunate than him.
"We've talked to Bradley for years about how there's more to Christmas than giving gifts," said Christie Thomas, Bradley's mother. "Jesus was all about helping people. What better way to honor him than doing what he would do so near his birthday?"
Bradley's father Dewayne said that his friend Bo Moody began having problems when he was laid off from Gene Lynn Electric in February, the pair's mutual place of work for nearly a decade. Afflicted with Crohn's Disease, a digestive tract condition, Moody was left without a means of supporting his wife Kelly and their three children. The couple's son, Austin, is 12 and suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. Their twin daughters, Summer and Courtney, are 10, and Summer suffers from cerebral palsy.
The Moodys’ lives took a turn for the worse in April when their house burned down in an electrical fire on Courtney and Summer's birthday. They've since lived in a motel in Carrollton, Ga., on unemployment, making the most of a desperate situation.
"It's been very hard," Kelly Moody said. "We worry about what to do for supper and have little privacy. Bradley has such a kind heart, though, that it's almost like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Bradley's father said his son began a collection for the Moodys intent on earning $100 for the family's Christmas gifts. Beginning with gardening neighbors' yards, he's since volunteered at a local thrift store and reached out through fellow congregation members at Oakdale Baptist Church. He's since earned $300.50 and hopes for more donations.
"I'm extremely proud," Dewayne said of his son. "He's very kind and has a big heart. People are surprised to see such a young boy take on such a big problem."
Bradley's family said he planned on continuing his project until Thanksgiving. They said he'd spoken with Santa Claus about visiting the Moodys to give them their gifts early. Kelly Moody said such kindness was a blessing, especially after her children lost most of their belongings in last spring's house fire.
"We are shocked but in a good way," she said. "I told Dewayne that they're doing everything right with their kids. My children can't wait for Christmas now when Santa brings them goodies."
Bradley's mother said she admired the Moodys’ courage given their difficult situation. She said she hoped her son's small idea grew into a big outpouring of help.
"The Moodys are making the best of things," she said. "So far we've gotten responses from all over the country. Bradley is happy he's doing something that would make God smile."
People interested in helping Bradley's project can reach him at his father's email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.