Thomas, store ready to hand out toys again this Christmas
By By James Crawford
The songs and traditions of Christmas tell us this time of year, above all, should be a time for everyone to be thoughtful and giving. Tawanna Thomas, owner of the James Wilson Christian Bookstore on North Main Street, is the embodiment of that sentiment.
For the third consecutive year, Thomas will open the doors to her store on Christmas Eve to give out free toys and candy to the public as long as her supplies last. In her eyes, it's only doing what you're supposed to do at Christmas.
Those in need are welcome to come by Tuesday during normal store hours. Toys will be distributed until they are all gone.
"I was doing this in Texas. When I moved here, the lord blessed me to be able to do it here as well," Thomas said. Thomas collects the toys throughout the year and accepts donations from others to add to her stock to be given away.
At the end of the day, she closes her doors for the night and then does something even more inspiring. She takes the toys that weren't handed out and plays secret Santa to the underprivileged living in the public housing apartment by leaving toys at the foot of doors, knocking loudly and moving on to the next door before they answer.
In her eyes, it's a way of giving a child a chance to enjoy the magic of Christmas and a reason to think about the true meaning of the season. "It was amazing," Thomas said. "Especially at the complex. Just to see the kids run out to get something."
Thomas began her service to God in Texas as a talk show host of a program entitled "New Beginnings." She moved to Atmore to care for her mother after her father, James Wilson, died. She briefly renewed her show here in town before deciding to open the bookstore, named after her father. "Anything to reach the public and get his word out," Thomas said. "That's what I want to do." Thomas also gives away candy and religious items at Easter and free pencils and school supplies to children in the fall when school begins.