Tonight's Pay it 4ward just might get you in the holiday spirit. We are honoring a woman who buys and delivers hundreds of Christmas gifts to a lonely and often forgotten segment of our society.
She has been a quiet servant for decades, but a friend shared her amazing story with us.
When Toni Drennen isn't adding itemized deductions and filing forms her Lindsay, Oklahoma tax business is transformed into a Christmas workshop.
Decades ago, Toni visited a local nursing home. It changed her life, forever.
“I talked to a lady in a wheelchair,” Drennen says. “Before I left, she said ‘thank you.’ I said, for what? She said, ‘For talking to me.’ They just want someone to talk to them. So, if we can get them a gift, that will make them even happier, I think.”
Toni and her encouraging husband, Brownie, will visit a dozen nursing homes this holiday season and hand out gifts to 500, lonely, forgotten or abused senior citizens.
“If we don't have anything for us, just make sure the nursing homes are taken care of. That's our Christmas job, to take care of the nursing home,” Toni explains.
For 27 years, they have been quietly bringing Christmas joy to others.
“I think they are very deserving of your Pay it 4ward,” That's why longtime friend, Diane Estes nominated Toni. “I think she deserves the recognition even though she wants God to get the glory.”
“No one should be left out at Christmas and I think this is going to be an awesome experience,” Spirit Bank’s, David Feisel says. “And I have $400 for you to take down and Pay it 4ward. If you notice, these are brand new bills; right off the press!”
Toni's family is in on our surprise and lures her to a local diner.
“I'm Lance West,” Lance introduces himself.
Yes. I know who you are,” Toni says, slightly embarrassed.
Lance says, “We have a program called Pay It 4ward at Channel 4. And your sweet friend has nominated you.”
“You deal with a neglected and abused segment of society and because you do so much, humbly and in Christ glory, not yours, I have $400. This will go a long way. I know,” Diane Estes says.
This self-proclaimed "bargain hunter" knows how to stretch a dollar and says this money will go a long way toward her nursing home ministry.
“You just can't imagine the smiles it brings to their faces. It reminds me when they were a child. That's what it's about; to make them happy and get a smile,” Toni says.
Her family has always known about Toni's sacrificial heart.
And now, this humble servant's secret is out. It is better to give, than to receive.
Toni and Brownie Drennan began delivering the gifts this week. They'll visit a dozen nursing homes before Christmas then start shopping for next year.