Better to give than receive

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 22, 2013

What Emma Myers wanted for her birthday this year didn’t have anything to with unwrapping presents; it had everything to do with giving to someone else. Emma turned eight several weeks ago and in lieu of birthday gifts at her party she asked everyone to bring food. She got the idea to collect and donate the food to someone in need.
Emma told the idea to her mother, Melisa, and Melisa contacted the Rev. Bruce Sheeks, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Rockwell.
Pastor Sheeks immediately said he had just the person — a man he checks on from time to time who was a widower living just down the road from the church.
Emma, her brother, Olin, 5, infant sister Alli and their parents, Charlie and Melisa, brought all that had been collected over a monthlong period to the home of Walter “Bud” Glenn Cook Sr., of Rockwell.
Emma saw on television where a boy gave food to others and “it came to me,” she said.
Emma told her mother she wanted to do something for someone else to “show Jesus she loved him,” Melisa said.
Melisa and Charlie said they were surprised by Emma’s request, but pleased she was thinking of someone in need.
“I’m very proud. We always want our kids to know it’s good to do for others,” Melisa said.
Melisa said although she was taken aback by Emma’s wish, she also knows it’s an example of what she and her husband teach the children.
“What a valuable lesson to teach our children and, in this case, Emma teaches us that it’s about others,” Sheeks said.
He said Emma learned kindness from her “Godly parents,” whom the pastor married.
“As parents, we have to model the lessons we want our children to learn, and Charlie and Melisa have done just that,” Sheeks said.
Cook was taken by surprise when Rev. Sheeks told him of the young girl’s plans to collect food for him.
“It’s rare that people do things for him. He was so humbled and moved by them just thinking of him,” Sheeks said.
Cook was shocked to see how much food and toiletries the family brought into his home. The family made three trips with bags, boxes and baskets filled with canned goods, dry goods and bathroom tissue. Emma asked her neighbors, her grandparents, her friends, their church — Highest Praise Family Worship Center in China Grove — and even went shopping with her mother to buy some items.
Emma and her brother picked items from the store that their grandparents liked and items they thought Cook would like as well.
“I thought it would be a little bit of stuff,” Cook said.
He invited the family back to help him eat it all, he joked.
“She always wants to do for others. She has a big heart,” Melisa said of Emma.
Emma wants to be nurse, she said, so she can take care of others.
Cook’s wife, Oveda, passed away nearly three years ago. Walter Cook is a native of Concord, but was raised in China Grove in a home just behind Bostian Elementary School. His family grew and sold figs and raised and sold hogs. He’s lived in Rowan County for more than 40 years and is retired from both the former Food Town, now Food Lion, and Carolane Propane. He built the house, “nail-by-nail” and the couple raised four children together.
Cook is close to his one of his stepson’s, Donnie Kemp, and grandson, Donald Kemp, who often takes Cook on family vacations.
It was important to Emma to not just make her food collection a one-time event, but to do so on a regular basis. The Myers say they plan to return once in a while to visit with Cook and bring more groceries.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: Facebook: