When St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church paid off people’s Christmas layaways, they thought they were doing it anonymously.
But it didn’t quite work out that way.
And yesterday the news of their good deed caught the attention of the White House.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about it in her daily White House press briefing on national TV.
Tuesday morning, the phone rang at St. Matthews.
The secretary told Rev. Mark Seitz…the White House was on the line for him.
He didn’t quite believe it, but he took the call.
And I was doubtful but I answered the phone and it turned out it was somebody on the press secretary’s staff.
White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “Today I’d like to start with the story of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wheeling, West Virginia. At the local WalMart, numerous families will come to pay the bill for Christmas toys they put on layaway and be told that there’s no need because it’s already been paid in full.”
Reverend Seitz had to smile.
Reverend Seitz said, “I know my congregation to be a group of very generous people who’ve been doing this Christmas thing for more than a hundred years now. Never, you know, looked for anybody to pay any attention to it.”
It all started more than a century ago.
White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The story starts over 100 years ago when a young girl tragically died around the Christmas season and her family donated money to the church in her honor, and asked that the money be used for children at Christmas.”
Reverend Seitz said, “Senator Nathan Scott who was a senator in the early 1900s experienced the loss of a teenage daughter. Her name was Daisy.”
It has people giving a second look at this window in the church given in honor of Daisy Scott.
It shows an angel with a bowl—look closely and you’ll see the word Peace.
It was created by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The window was the family’s gift to the church, and the funding, a gift to Wheeling’s children.
A gift this congregation has never failed to give.
Wheeling Resident, Rick Davis said, “Actually I just heard about that, and that’s just totally awesome.”
Wheeling Resident, Chris Niehaus said, “But like churches like this, they help people who really need stuff. I think that’s really nice.”
“Actually I just heard about that about two weeks ago on Facebook. And I think it’s amazing. We need more people like that in the area. That’s just totally awesome,” said Davis.
They use only the interest from the endowment they don’t touch the principal.
“Yes, they made the gift and they instructed that it be used to provide Christmas for children in Wheeling,” said Reverend Seitz.
At some point, another family, the Hood family, added money to that endowment.
These days, nobody knows of any living relatives of either the Scotts or the Hoods.
But their wishes are always followed.