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Gift Family Lives Up To Their Name In Duplin County

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DUPLIN COUNTY — After Hurricane Floyd blew through, a couple on the coast left their home. It was not because it was damaged but because they wanted to help others in need. Seven months later, their selfless mission has made a profound impact on a small Duplin County town.

Tom Gift is a retired steelworker. His wife, Randi, is a former manufacturing manager. Together, they have given a true gift to the victims of Hurricane Floyd in the northeast community outside Wallace.

"We know God has put us here for more than just putting up boards," Tom says. "It's just trying to help people the best we can."

Despite their limited background in carpentry, the Gifts have helped to rebuild eight flood-damaged homes, all free of charge.

During their seven-month mission, Tom and Randi have traded the comforts of their home in Carteret County for a $400 camper. They have lived and prayed in the parking lot of the Wallace Pentecostal Holiness Church.

"We have taken pictures of every home we've been in," Randi says. "It is so rewarding to see someone's life coming back together. You can't get that on a vacation."

They bathe and use the bathroom at the people's homes they repair.

"I don't know many people that would take up and leave home to a place that they don't know to help strangers," says Carol McLauren of Wallace Pentecoastal Holiness Church.

Those strangers now embrace the Gifts as a Godsend.

"It's been a trying time, but people like this helped us make it through," says flood victim Harold Wood.

"When you're serving the Lord, it's really hard to see if you're blessing or you are getting blessed," Tom says. "I can tell you without a doubt, our lives are blessed."

During their mission of goodwill, the Gifts have supported themselves with Tom's $20,000-a-year pension. Homeowners help pay for building supplies.

They say they plan to keep working as long as they find the need.

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Cullen Browder, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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