Valdosta Daily Times

December 26, 2012

St. John AME Church hosts annual Christmas dinner

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Numerous families ditched their Christmas plans and merged into one big family as the group shared gifts and food during Kemet Universal's 20th annual Day of Caring, Sharing and Giving dinner at St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church on Christmas Day.

The Christmas Day present and food giveaway was a continuation of Thanksgiving's sharing and giving event, stated Organizer and Grandmaster Eddie L. Koonce of Kemet Universal. Families were welcomed to free clothes and hair care as well.

"We're here on Christmas day to try to provide a nice gathering for the people who can't afford a nice Christmas," said Koonce. "The church has graciously allowed us to hold our Christmas dinner here and there’s a good church family here to fellowship with."

Before lunch, organizers passed out some gifts and raffled off others. Ayliah Williams said the bike she won was a sign that God was looking out for her family and would be given to granddaughter Maliah as a late Christmas present.

"My daughter lost her job and only had one thing for Maliah under the Christmas tree," said Williams. "A woman at her job purchased a few things, and now I've won this bike. I don't have a job so it is hard for me as a grandmother to be unable to buy things for my granddaughter. So winning the bike was a relief and I'm so thankful my fiancé Tony Hamilton urged me to come here."

Events like Kemet Universal's Christmas luncheon is what Saint John's is about and the church is proud to partner with Mr. Koonce, said Associate Pastor Brooks Biven of Saint John. He goes above the call of duty to help the community, said Medora Lawson.

The clothing was donated from the church, Looking Good Fashion and private donors, said Koonce. Funding came from Koonce’s Red Dirt Barbeque charity event earlier this year, he said.

Next year kicks off a new campaign and efforts never stop, said Koonce. Project Hope for Life, an after school mentoring program, will start back up when school’s back in session, he said.

To find out more about Kemet Universal and its program, contact Eddie Koonce at