An ornament maker who has remained anonymous until now is getting the recognition she deserves.
Nancy Benedict embodies the spirit of Christmas. Her home is decorated brightly for Christmas with Santa ornaments, statues, dolls and more. She channels her inner Santa and gives presents to children at Christmastime.
For the past three years, Nancy cross-stitched ornaments for families who have children battling cancer. In many cases, she made the gifts for children she never even met.
It started with Nancy’s neighbor, Amy Hermann, whose son, Jacob, battled leukemia.
Amy is part of the Wilmington Childhood Cancer Support Group. Nancy decided she wanted to do something special for the families in that group.
“I just wanted to put a smile on their face for one second,” she said. “I wanted to do something for these mothers. It gives me the shivers every now and again when I think that I’ve brought them a moment of joy.”
Mothers in the group said it has brought joy to their families.
At the Herrman family’s house, Abigail, who was diagnosed in early 2014 with cancer in both kidneys, is now two years in remission.
She has the ornaments from Nancy front and center on the tree.
Her mom, Chris, said the gesture means so much to her family.
“When we first got them the first year, it was very touching,” her mom, Chris said about the gesture. “I just thought how kind she was. The bigger surprise was the second year when it came again. We already had the first ones on the tree and then we had more, I had more to bring home to the kids and they were extremely excited.”
Sean Fleming, 8, also received ornaments from Nancy through the years.
He was diagnosed in with a rare bone sarcoma when he was 3. Sean had a softball size tumor on his rib. He’s now 5 years out of treatment.
“For him to know that there are still, even though he is not in the middle of treatment, he has the chest brace and other side effects and issues and I think they all have just reoccurring thoughts or fears, to know there are people out there who haven’t forgotten what these kids journeyed through is very important,” said Sean’s mom, Corinna Fleming.
Both women agreed: It’s not just about the physical gift, it’s about what’s behind it.
“Very simply, it’s that someone out there is praying for our child,” Chris said. “They love them. They never met them but they love them.”
This year, Nancy’s neighbor revealed to the support group exactly who made the ornaments.
“When I meet her, I’m going to hug her and thank her from the bottom of my heart for the prayer and the blessings,” Corinna said.
Nancy said she’s happy the secret is out but she never did it for the recognition.
“When I saw one of the mothers after she knew who did it, she said with tears in her eyes that she hung it in the very middle of her Christmas tree every year and that’s why I do it,” she said.
Nancy said she never thought about her comparison Santa but she embraces the spirit of St. Nick.
“I think the term Santa Claus is not just the man in the suit,” she said. “It’s just the giving and the sharing and the things that sometimes we only do at Christmas time.”
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