A young child from Ellerbe has been spending her past few birthdays giving instead of getting.
Tatum Rhyne will be turning 8 years old on August 31, and her wish is to collect enough money for a Habitat for Humanity house for someone without a home.
“On Tatum’s sixth birthday I asked her what she wanted for a present,” said her mother Jennifer Rhyne. “Tatum thought for a minute, and said, ‘Nothing, I have all I want and need, maybe I will get something for someone else.”’
A few days later, after hearing about a food drive at church, Tatum instructed her parents that she would collect food for the local Carolina Farm Credit that was having a food drive near their home.
“For her birthday party she had a pretty pink decorated box that was filled to the rim with food for her collection, she also got monetary donations from friends and family near and far,” said Rhyne. “Tatum was beaming with pride when she entered the Farm Credit to give them her donations. A few months later Carolina Farm Credit called and asked her to attend a banquet where she would be the guest of honor. They presented her with a plaque, and bought her a wonderful birthday present. Tatum was so excited and proud of herself.”
Nearing Tatum’s seventh birthday, she decided she wanted to do something like that again. She decided this time though, since there were people without food, there must be people without clothes, too.
“So she had her daddy pull up his truck to her birthday party, and asked that people bring their gently used clothes and shoes to her party in lieu of gifts,” said Rhyne. “She collected a truck load, and again was very happy. We contacted the local homeless shelter, and donated the items there.”
While doing so, the Rhyne family met the Baker House Director Renee Rohleder, and she explained to Tatum how the shelter worked; they have days open for people to come in and serve supper to the men that stay there on cold nights.
“Tatum was so excited she could have bust,” said Rhyne. “We right away signed up for the two nights they had left on the calendar. She helped cook and serve both nights, and she made note that these people needed gloves, blankets and coats, so she asked the church and everyone she came in contact with, and we took a load of those as well.”
For her 8th birthday this August, Tatum has something very special in the works.
“She told us last week that her birthday was next in our house, and that she and Jesus had been talking,” said Rhyne. “She wants to collect lots of money to build houses for people who don’t have homes. I asked Tatum just how much she and Jesus had decided she needed to collect, and she calmly replied, ‘$10,000.’ I took a deep breath, and told her that I was not sure that our circle of friends could come up with that much. She just smiled, and said, ‘OK, mom. Whatever you think will be fine, but you know, I don’t just come up with these things on my own!’”
That prompted Rhyne to create a Facebook page (search Tatum Rhyne to “like” it) which has information about the growing donations and how to contribute. Each Friday Rhyne posts how much she has collected.
Tatum said she has spoken with Habitat for Humanity.
“They said I was a very sweet little girl,” said Tatum, who would much rather give than get things for her birthday, “because I thought it would be better to give than get because it’s better to give to people who don’t have anything. I felt very happy giving them that stuff so they could be happy.”
Tatum said she knows $10,000 is a lot of money, “but I think I can do it.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.