From The National Freedman, Vol. 2 (May 1866), pp. 146-147
Our friends who have so particularly remembered the poor at Chimborazo this winter, will be glad to know that their liberal gifts have been bestowed with rare judgment; and they will, we doubt not, be amply rewarded by the consciousness of having performed a Christian duty, and thereby causing many sad hearts to rejoice. Miss Williams reports as follows:
RICHMOND, VA., April 14, 1866.
Dear Sir: - It gives me sincere pleasure to inform you of the substantial aid my Northern friends have given to the suffering poor at Camp Chimborazo, during this long winter. He who has promised to hear the cry of the poor and needy has verified his promise to these children of want, and opened fountains in high places, which have flowed down upon us in refreshing streams, watering many a weary, heavy-laden soul.
I have received from the Congregational Church at Haydenville, Mass., and the Sabbath school at New Haven, Ct., through the American Missionary Association, a valuable case of clothing. Greenfield, Mass., through the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society, a barrel of clothing and $10. Friends at South Deerfield, Mass., $9. Ladies’ Aid Society, Hopkinton, Mass., 5 barrels of clothing. The juvenile class Cong. Sabbath school, Hopkinton, Mass, a barrel of clothing, $75. Lee Claflin and Congregational Church, Hopkinton, Mass., $61. Mr. and Mrs. Lee Claflin, 60 pairs of shoes. W. F. Claflin, 1 case of boots. Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Claflin, $40. Mr. and Mrs. M. C. Phipps, $15. A friend, $3. Total, $850. The money has been expended for fuel, food, and delicacies for the sick and aged, who were unable to supply themselves. The clothing has been distributed to the truly destitute at the camp and in the city. Could the friends of these poor creatures have been here and witnessed the joy, and heard the expressions of gratitude they uttered, when we covered them with their warm garments, I think they would feel richly repaid for all they have done. Many thanks to them all. May they have the reward in this life of those who “sow beside all waters,” and in the “great hereafter,” be among that goodly company who hae delivered the poor that cried, the fatherless and him that had none to help him, and have caused the widwo’s heart to sing with joy, and proved the sincereity of their philanthropy and Christian beneficence by the largeness of their liberality.
In this wilderness of appalling destitution, when starvation and death seemed inevitable, their gifts and charities have descended upon Chimborazo like the dews of Hermon, filling many hearts with joy and gladness. “Eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, have they been.” The children of the Sabbath school, catching the inspiration of the elders, have sent the scholars of my school their little coats and garments, nicely pieced quilts, the work of their fingers, have warmed body and soul of many an “ageable” aunty, “with misery in their heads, and rumatic limbs.” “Truly, the blessing of them that were reday to perish must be theirs.”
An aged woman, who received one of these warm English dresses, exclaimed: “Thank God, I have a gown to wear to all the prayer meetin’s and Christmases as long as I live.” She has been made exceedingly happy in the possession of a pair of spectacles that “catches her eyesight right smart,” and she is trying to learn to read, that she may be able to read the Holy Bible before she dies.
I asked her the other day if she was over eighty. She replied: “I fear to say, over or under, but I tell you I have lived on this earth a long time.” She has been the mother of sixteen children, sold in the shambles six times, a member of a church forty-six years, and now on the banks of the river, bereft of her children she is driven out into the cold world a homeless wanderer. At the Sabbath school she sits an attentive listener with the little children. On one occasion I repeated the first beatitude of the great Teacher’s sermon on the mount, and asked her if she could repeat the passage. She replied: “Oh yes; I knows it, bless the Lord, I feels it in my soul; I lean to the Lord, he lead his old sheep by the still waters; it makes me smile to hear you tell it.” The language she could not repeat, but the living word was engraven on her soul, and in her experience. She could testify to the blessedness of the promise to the poor in spirit, and in the richness and fullness of an assured faith, she could read the title to the kingdom of heaven.
L. E. WILLIAMS.