Although Brunswick native Sonya McKinzie’s grandmother died more than a decade ago, she still thinks about her every Christmas.
McKinzie recalls her grandmother, Bessie Lee Green, as a warm and neighborly woman who would visit the lonely and bring cheer to the downtrodden.
“She was always doing something for the community,” said McKinzie, who now lives in metro Atlanta. “Whether it was just baking goods, or talking, she used to love on people at church and in the community. She would go out to the hospital and sit with friends who didn’t have any family. It’s just how she was.”
Aimed at keeping that memory alive, McKinzie and her mother, Brunswick resident Barbara Green, are planning to spread some of the late good Samaritan’s hallmark goodwill on Christmas Eve.
“On Christmas Eve, my mother and I are planning to go to nursing homes in the area, as well as a few other elders that are shut in and don’t have family members,” McKinzie said. “We’re delivering baskets with handmade throws and blankets, hats, gloves and lotion. It’s a time to visit and have some fellowship, and let them know they’re appreciated.”
McKinzie said she and Green are planning to visit two nursing homes, as well as several shut-in individuals who don’t have family members who visit during the holiday season.
“I can’t imagine being forgotten all throughout the year — especially this time of year,” McKinzie said. “I hope this will be something that makes them smile and makes a difference.”
Although it’s the first year McKinzie and Green have delivered the gifts, it’s not McKinzie’s first involvement in reaching out to people in need. When McKinzie is not in Brunswick handing out holiday cheer, she is the president and CEO of the Duluth-based Women of Virtue Transitional Foundation, a domestic violence awareness nonprofit.
“The organization is a place to help domestic violence victims and their children, as well as the underprivileged,” McKinzie said, who added she is a domestic violence survivor. “(We want) to help them find some clarity, some balance in their lives.”
Her organization works mostly with people in the Atlanta area, but McKinzie said she chose to come home to Brunswick because she felt the impact would be stronger.
“I wanted to do something in my hometown,” she said. “Atlanta is so huge, and there are so many organizations there. But Brunswick is small, and there’s a chance there to think about and help our elders.”
McKinzie hopes to continue her gift giving next year, and said she is open to the prospect of partnering with local organizations in Brunswick. She would also like to see the number of people served grow.
“We want to find people in the community who really need this,” she said. “Who knows — maybe next year, we’ll help 20, 30 — maybe 100 people.”