FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Essie “Big Mama” Reed was in tears when she talked about the struggles families are facing during the coronavirus pandemic and the need there is to continue giving. It’s sad, she said.
Reed knows what it’s like to struggle. She said her mother used to have to care for her siblings. She often tells the story: After her husband abandoned her and her three sons, they were forced to sleep at the fish market she owned in Pompano Beach.
“God gave me this calling many years ago,” Reed said.
Reed set up a youth ministry in the late 1980s to help kids in need. She said the words of a pastor at the Royal Assembly Church of the Living God rang true.
Reed still remembers his words: “Your gift will make room for you.”
Reed has been committed to continuing her Christmas gift giveaway tradition even during the pandemic when she was forced to turn it into a drive-through event outside of her Team of Life Center, at 2130 NW 8 St., in Fort Lauderdale.
The event this year is the “Gift of Love Holiday Toy Giveaway!” She and her helpers, some of whom consider her a surrogate mother, helped her to distribute toys during her annual Christmas event. This time the center is also distributing food.