By Jessica Connor
EASLEY—A few years ago, Sandra Bandy's elderly mother turned to her and sighed.
"Oh, you know, I never get any kind of mail except bills and junk mail," Bandy's late mother said.
That one innocent statement launched a large-scale ministry at First United Methodist Church, Easley, that now shines light, love and good cheer into the lives of dozens of homebound elderly year-round.
Now called Anonymous Angels, the ministry pairs an older or ill person ”dubbed a lamb ”with an angel who commits to send thoughtful, handwritten notes from January to December, effectively adopting them for a full year. Some of the angels spoil their lamb, buying gifts and other surprises, while others stick to sweet cards and heartfelt letters. Some stay anonymous, while others choose to reveal themselves.
When she first was inspired to start the ministry, Bandy was doing all the card-sending herself. She asked her church for a list of all members who were in nursing homes or couldn t get out of the home, and she started sending a little card to everyone.
I didn't sign my name, just said, ˜Hope you have a great day, Bandy said. I sent one to my mother, too, and she never knew!
But after awhile, the workload got to be too much, especially after her husband took ill. So she solicited help some from friends at church. Eventually, the ministry blossomed into a full team who yearly reviews a Tender Loving Care list and then is assigned a lamb to adopt and love.
Bandy said the recipients really appreciate the simple cheer they get in receiving some unexpected sunshine in the mail ”particularly in this fast-paced era of email, phone calls and text messages.
People delight, especially at that age, in getting a letter, Bandy said. Even though I use technology, I still enjoy getting a card and something handwritten.
The angels say they get as much if not more out of the ministry.
Carol Dean, who has been an Anonymous Angel with her husband, Bob, for the last two years, said being involved with the ministry is an easy way to represent Christian love to someone who can use a little care.
It's a small thing that we can do to brighten someone else s day, Dean said. These are shut-in people who don't get out, lots of times they don't have much family left and don't get much mail, and it s not anything hard to do at all. It gives you a good feeling to know you re helping someone else to have a better day and let them know the people at the church are thinking of them and they re not forgotten.
First UMC s pastor the Rev. Rod Powell said he is proud of his congregation s love and concern for all people.
I appreciate most of all their intentionality, Powell said. They are making that intentional effort to make sure that no one is left out ”that the care and ministry of the church reaches those who are all too often ˜out of sight and out of mind.
Bandy said it s important to remember all people in the church and reach out in sisterly care.
I think God works in mysterious ways and you just never know what you re going to do that affects someone in a positive way, she added.