NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - She lost everything in a house fire. She rebuilt. Then, not one, but two floods knocked her down again. Yet, through all of life's challenges, an elderly Point Coupee Parish woman maintains focus on giving to others, even when she's the one in need.
"This is what I do daily," said Artemise Nelson. "Read my bible to know what God wants me to do, how God wants me to do it."
That's how the spry 71-year-old greeted me on her carport in New Roads.
"Sometimes I'm criticized, but it's alright because if Jesus said it, I believe it. That's the way I am," Artemis said about her daily bible reading.
Artemise began a clothing drive in 1986 for anyone who was in need. And, she continues it to this day.
"I looked around and saw a lot of people that was in need. And, we decided to go on and get clothes that people were throwing away. A lot of clothes that were good, people were putting to the road children needed, grown-ups needed, especially the older people. And, we decided that we were going to start up this clothes giveaway," she explained.
It wasn't always easy answering God's calling to give, but through personal hardships herself, she never once stopped the clothing drive.
"I've been through a house fire; house burned. That was in 1989. And, we built again. We had a little building for these clothes, but now, I don't know because of the fire. But, I don't have any funds to build another building," Artemis added.
And another building is something she really needs for her clothing inventory. Because right now, Artemise displays her clothes neatly on racks beneath her carport. As to why she does it?
"It's something I really like to do. And, when people come in and ask for clothes and I don't have it to give to them, I just feel bad. 'Cause I like to give," she said.
And, she's very, very picky about the items she stocks for giveaway. If it's torn, ripped, or has stains, Artemise throws it away. And, she's very proud of her clean and pressed items, many of which she washed and ironed herself.
"These are some of the clothes that we have. We have beautiful pants. These are mostly for church. Most of us go in church, we have black and white for choir, so these are choir," Artemise proudly explained as she showed us her collection.
"Here, we have sweaters. It's still cold. So, we try to give people nice sweaters to put on," she added.
And, she even tries to coordinate items.
"We try to match 'em. Look at this. This is an outfit, lovely outfit. That's the dress. This is a dress with a top. Try to put the little purse to match it," she described.
She lives by the creed, "if you give from the heart, you receive from the heart."
It's also the creed of Doris Tircuit, a close friend who nominated Artemise for Hand It On.
"So today, Mr. Johnny Ahysen wants to bless you with a token," Doris began as she pulled out three crisp $100 bills and handed them to Artemise.
Artemise was confused and thought we were trying to purchase some clothes.
"I'm not selling anything," Artemise said, puzzled.
"God blesses you today," Doris tried to explain the Hand It On program.
"We love you and keep the good work up. Thank You."
Artemise finally understood what was happening. Tears began to flow down her cheeks.
"I don't know what to say. I'm at a loss for words. Because I don't do it for the money. I do it to glorify God," Artemis explained.
Artemise and Doris - two angels on earth.
To nominate someone for Hand It On, send an e-mail to HandItOn@wafb.com.