PDT Staff Writer
The joy of the season was apparent as children sang Christmas carols and visited with Santa during the Second annual By Grace Christmas party and dinner held Monday.
Bonnie Bertram, founder of By Grace, said it is a strong network of grandparents that work together.
“We are a support group made up of grandparents, and great grandparents raising their children due to some type of addiction. We need a lot of support from each other. We work together to help one another find the resources needed to raise our grandchildren,” Bertram said.
According to Bertram, the grandparents of By Grace take care of children ranging from 21 months to 17 years old.
By Grace stands for Blessed Youth, Grandparents Raising and Caring Everyday, and is an extension of First Apostolic Church, formerly of Rosemount, now located in Portsmouth at 25th Street and Grandview Ave.
Bertram said the children of By Grace are provided gifts and coats at the Christmas party and dinner.
“At Christmas time we have people who help give each child two Christmas gifts. We also use the money that we raise to pay for our dinner, and we make sure that the children have coats,” Bertram said.
She said Tammy and Mark Campbell contribute a great deal of time and effort toward the Christmas party for the children of By Grace.
“It is important to me to help out with this because I have known Bonnie for many years, and she is a very special lady. The other reason that I help is because I have lost two nephews due to drug abuse, so for me this really hits home,” Tammy Campbell said.
Pastor of First Apostolic, Tony Knittel, said he likes what By Grace represents.
“It is important for the season, and what it represents, and for helping one another. It is a good cause. It is wonderful what these grandparents do in helping to raise their grand children,” Knittel said.
Tom Rayburn, an associate pastor of First Apostolic Church and volunteer of By Grace, said the effort came about through reaching out to the drug addicted population.
“We started this a few years ago through our coalition against drugs and alcohol. We got into some other areas with Bonnie, who had it in her heart to help those that were struggling with addiction and that is how all of this evolved,” Rayburn said.
Bertram said bake sales enable By Grace to host the Christmas dinner and to buy shoes for the children.
“We raise money through bake sales to raise money to buy shoes for the children to wear at the beginning of the school year.
Bertram said it has been the generosity of Shoe Sensation in New Boston that has allowed By Grace to distribute the shoes.
“We could not do this without the help of Shoe Sensation who gives us the shoes at a discounted rate. They have been such a blessing to us,” Bertram said.
Tammy Shope, Manager of Shoe Sensation, said she enjoys helping By Grace out with shoes for the children.
“I love helping people, and I love helping people that need help. I enjoy helping the kids,” Shope said.
Shope said she allows By Grace to host the bake sales in front of the store on the first Saturday of each month.
By Grace meets at First Apostolic every Monday at 6:30 p.m. There is an open invitation for grandparents seeking to network with other grandparents.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Portia on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.