By MARY BETH SALLEE
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40
Markcus and Danielle Lewis are a husband and wife duo that strive each day to live by what their faith calls them to do: help those in need.
“We are the hands and feet of Christ,” Markcus said. “It is literally in the title Christian that we are to show people what Christ looks like through our actions and character. Everything that we do for one another is a reflection of our Savior. Generosity, kindness, and love are acts that we should all express daily…”
In an act to personify that love of Christ to others, the couple spent December 23 traveling from their home in Hendersonville, Tenn., to Kentucky and as far north as Magnolia to distribute Christmas meals to families in need.
“There were 17 drop off locations divided between four drivers,” Danielle said. “Our family volunteered to help deliver in Horse Cave, Bowling Green, and Franklin, Kentucky. We personally delivered to 12 homes in Westmoreland, Tennessee, Park City, Horse Cave, Munfordville, Bonnieville, Cub Run, and Magnolia. It was an approximate five-hour, 175-mile route.”
A total of 20 families were each provided with a box that included enough food to feed four to six individuals. Each box contained a custom designed Christmas card from Made Whole Food Services, a full Kentucky legend ham, a family size box of macaroni and cheese, 1 large can of green beans, 1 can of cranberry sauce, a 5-lb. bag of potatoes, a 12-count package of dinner rolls, and a full pecan or sweet potato pie.
“Our children decorated and personalized each box with a Christmas greeting and the name of the family,” Danielle said.
Markcus and Danielle currently own and operate three small businesses that service south central Kentucky and the greater Nashville area. Danielle is a professional makeup artist and owner of ELLEgant Makeup. Markcus is a personal chef and owner of Made Whole Food Services. Together, they do photography and graphic design as the owners of ELLEgant Imagery.
It is through their businesses that Markcus and Danielle were able to jump start their vision to help those families.
“We created a flyer detailing the fundraiser and posted to our personal and business social media pages,” Markcus said. “Updates on the fundraiser were posted every few days, but the response from the community came quickly. Individuals messaged and emailed us with names of families they knew were in need of a blessing.”
Markcus and Danielle were able fund their effort with generous donations from corporate sponsors, as well as their own clients and family members. A total of $600 was raised.
“We were able to raise all of the money and have the names and contact info for 20 families in about two weeks,” Danielle said. “We received exactly 20 names, which was our goal. So, no family was turned down.”
“Helping others is our Christian responsibility. The keyword being response,” Markcus said. “When God gave us the vision, we knew He would also give us the provision to fulfill it. December marked one year in business for me as a personal chef, so feeding the community was naturally the way to go. We allowed God to use us and our platform on social media. In return, we were blessed just being able to serve and see it come to fruition.”
An overwhelming response of gratitude was received from the families as the food boxes were a complete surprise to many.
“We had several individuals who nominated families that requested to remain anonymous,” Danielle said. “It was a very emotional day. Some of the recipients have been out of work or struggling to make ends meet even before the pandemic hit. Many simply couldn’t believe that we had driven from Tennessee just to make sure they had Christmas dinner. Every smile and wave blessed us equally in return.”
Although Markcus and Danielle have spent nearly a decade as residents of Tennessee, they are no strangers to the bluegrass state. Markcus is a native of Glasgow and Danielle a native of Horse Cave.
“It is incredibly important to remember where you come from, not just from a geographical standpoint, but also reflecting on times when we have been in need ourselves,” Danielle said. “It is easy to say, ‘It could’ve been me’ when looking at someone else’s situation and walk away grateful without ever considering what you can do to help. We both come from very giving families that strongly believe in community action. So, we were easily inspired to give back to the communities that we were raised in and continue to support us.”
Markcus stated that it is also important to remember small businesses. Many owners during these difficult times are struggling to support their own families.
“Small businesses depend on sales to not only keep their businesses going, but to also keep the lights on and food on the table in their own homes,” Markcus said. “Hart County and surrounding areas are full of small businesses for essential and unique needs. Even if you are unable to make a purchase right now, refer their goods and services to a friend. Buy gift cards for future services so they can have the money now. Share their business information on social media. Collaborate and partner up with someone with a similar business. We are better together.”
Whether it be a neighbor next door, the small business you pass by each day, or a family miles away, there is one key component that everyone from all walks of life can contribute to this world: kindness.
“Growing up, I was taught, ‘People don’t have to be kind, and when they are, they don’t have to be kind to you,’” Daneille said. “Kindness is a gift that I have never taken for granted and share frequently. The best part: kindness is free! There are so many ways that we can be kind, and it truly costs us nothing. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, we can’t really share a smile behind our masks, but we can still show kindness in other small gestures like waving, calling to check on our friends and neighbors, shooting a text or message to let someone know that you are thinking of them, paying it forward at a restaurant or grocery store, tipping your waiters and food delivery person, being patient with our service providers, thanking the overworked essential workers, etc. Everyone is going through something, and you never know how a small act of kindness can help.”
Made Whole Food Services provides catering, in-home personal chef services, private and corporate dinners, homemade preserves, desserts and in-home and delivery meal prep services. The small business can be found on Facebook and Instagram via @MadeWholeFoodServices and can be contacted on social media or by email at MadeWholeFoodServices@gmail.com.
Generosity, kindness, and love. As the new year continues, may everyone open their hearts and truly remember what it means to extend a helping hand to their fellow human being.